A travel guide to the 2011 Oscar movies

Travel guide to Oscar moviesThe 83rd annual Academy Awards are coming up in a few weeks and the Oscars race is on. This year’s nominations contained few surprises, with many nods for Brit period piece The King’s Speech, Facebook biopic The Social Network, and headtrip Inception. While 2010’s ultimate travel blockbuster Eat, Pray, Love failed to made the cut, there’s still plenty to inspire wanderlust among the Best Picture picks.

Read on for a travel guide to the best movies of 2010 and how to create your own Oscar-worthy trip.

127 HoursLocation: Danny Boyle’s nail-biter was shot on location in Utah’s Blue John Canyon near Moab and on a set in Salt Lake City. Go there: Should you want to explore Moab’s desert and canyons while keeping all limbs intact, check out Moab in fall for bike races and art festivals.

Black Swan
Location: Much of the ballet psychodrama was shot in New York City, though the performances were filmed upstate in Purchase, New York. Go there: To see the real “Swan Lake” on stage at Lincoln Center, you’ll have to hope tickets aren’t sold out for the New York City Ballet, performing this month February 11-26.

The FighterLocation: in the grand tradition of Oscar winners Good Will Hunting and The Departed, the Mark Wahlberg boxing flick was filmed in Massachusetts, in Micky Ward’s real hometown of Lowell, 30 miles north of Boston. Go there: For a map of locations in Lowell, check out this blog post and perhaps spot Micky Ward at the West End Gym.

InceptionLocation: The setting of this film depends on what dream level you’re in. The locations list includes Los Angeles, England, Paris, Japan, even Morocco. Go there: There are plenty of real locations to visit, including University College London and Tangier’s Grand Souk. Canada’s Fortress Mountain Resort where the snow scenes were shot is currently closed, but you can ski nearby in Banff.

The Kids Are All Right
Location: Director Lisa Cholodenko is a big fan of southern California, she also filmed the 2002 Laurel Canyon in Los Angeles. Go there: Love it or hate it, L.A. is still a top travel destination in the US and perhaps this year you can combine with a trip to Vegas, if the X Train gets moving.

The King’s SpeechLocation: A prince and a commoner in the wedding of the century. Sound familiar? This historical drama was shot in and around London, though stand-ins were used for Buckingham Palace’s interiors. Go there: It might be hard to recreate the vintage look of the film, but London is full of atmospheric and historic architecture and palaces to visit. If you’re a sucker for English period films or places Colin Firth has graced, tour company P & P Tours can show you around many historic movie locations like Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice.

The Social NetworkLocation: Another Massachusetts and California movie, this very academic film shot at many college and prep school campuses, but none of them Harvard, which hasn’t allowed film crews in decades. Go there: If you enjoyed the Winklevoss rowing scene, head to England this summer for the Henley Royal Regatta June 29 – July 3.

Toy Story 3 – Location: The latest in the Pixar animated trilogy is set at the Sunnyside Daycare. Go there: Reviews are mixed, but Disney’s Hollywood Studios has a new Pixar parade, to let fans see their favorite characters in “person.” Visit any Disney gift shop to make your own toy story.

True Grit – Location: The Coen brothers western remake may be set in 19th century Arkansas, but it was filmed in modern day Santa Fe, New Mexico and Texas, taking over much of towns like Granger. Go there: If you’re a film purist or big John Wayne fan, you can tour the locations of the original film in Ouray County, Colorado.

Winter’s Bone – Location: Many moviegoers hadn’t heard of this film when nominations were announced, set and shot in the Ozark Mountains in southern Missouri. Go there: The difficult film centers around the effects of methamphetamine on a rural family, but travel destinations don’t get much more wholesome than Branson, Missouri. Bring the family for riverboat shows and the best bathroom in the country.

[Photo by Flickr user Lisa Norman]

North Korea sends meth users to firing squad, marijuana still OK

Not that you could get there for this reason anyway, but North Korea is cracking down on narcotics use in a most North Korean way, which means you don’t want to get busted trying to score there.

Open Radio for North Korea reports:

According to a source in Hamkyungbuk-do, a declaration entitled “The Crackdown on Drug Use” was issued in Hoeryung (Hamkyungbuk-do) by the People’s Safety Agency. The declaration was posted on the window of a busy store and states that ‘any drug users will face a firing squad should they be caught. The declaration has been issued throughout the nation, the source said.

This is the first time the regime has announced a crackdown on druggies, but the sentence isn’t all that unusual. The big problem right now is meth, which is produced in Hamheung, and “even middle school students are openly using meth.”

The report adds, “North Koreans have lost hope and are depressed by the reality that they are living. They would rather be happy under the influence of drugs.”

Meanwhile, the land that the Kim family built is rather loose in its definition of “drugs.” Opium and marijuana, it seems, don’t count.

[photo by Stephen_AU via Flickr]

What is that bad smell in your motel room? It could be a Meth lab!

Some time ago, Justin wrote about meth makers using the coffee machine in hotel rooms to brew their concoctions. It’s now 2 years later, and the problem seems to be going from bad to worse.

Meth makers are increasingly using motel rooms for their “cooking”, often checking in late at night, and leaving the place behind by morning.

Of course, since these criminals are not the most ethical people around, they are not putting too much effort into cleaning up their mess of toxic chemicals. The problem is so widespread, that there are companies that do nothing but clean up whatever stench is left behind.

Some meth makers try to mask the odor with cat litter, others use absorbent materials left between the mattress and box spring. If the mess is too serious, a cleanup may involve replacing all the furniture and other items in the room, along with a $20,000 cleanup job.

So, the lesson to be learned here is to always be on the lookout for strange odors and stains in your room, if you suspect something isn’t right, get out of the room and notify the front desk.

It’s bad enough when you run into a dark and depressing room, but it’s a totally different situation when the bad smell in the room could actually kill you. Oh, and if any meth makers are reading this – thanks for making it so damn hard to buy the good Nyquil this winter.

(Via: Chicago Sun Times)

CNN reporter and business travel expert gets caught with meth in Central Park

When we were in Montana two summers ago, I noticed anti-meth billboards everywhere. The billboards were part of a media blitz to get teens and adults to not start this dreadful drug habit that rots teeth, creates pock marks and wastes away ones body and mind. For people hooked on methamphetamine, the aim was to get them unhooked. In the small town in Montana where we go each year, I have known people who showed the signs of being addicts, and it wasn’t pretty.

According to this Billings Gazette news story from last September, the media blitz has worked and meth use is down more than 50% in Montana. With the news stories about the hazards of meth use that have appeared, it always surprises me to find out when prominent people with much to lose dabble in the stuff. Such is the case with Richard Quest, a CNN International reporter.

Quest, who hosts “Business Traveler” and another program called “Quest,” was in New York City’s Central Park at 3:40 a.m. this morning and was arrested, according to this New York Times tidbit. You aren’t supposed to be in Central Park after 1 a.m. or before 6 a.m. That’s one no-no. The other no-no involves the Ziploc bag with meth in it that Quest had in his pocket. These two missteps have him facing drug charges. He did say the meth was in his pocket before the police found it.

Since methamphetamine is not particularly helpful in the long run for travelers–it may keep you feeling peppy for awhile, but can lead to memory loss and a myriad of other woes, I wonder what Quest was thinking. Not to mention that having a drug record gets in the way of travel to the United States. Quest is British. Look at Amy Winehouse who couldn’t attend the Grammy Awards.

Either life as a prominent CNN reporter is not as terrific as it looks and makes chilling out difficult, or it helps one lose track of common sense. Or, I have no idea. And one more thing. What was Quest thinking when he headed into Central Park in the wee hours of the morning? That’s nuts. Doesn’t he pay attention to the news?