Oscar season is center stage, with the Academy Awards coming up on Sunday, February 22. The show takes place in Los Angeles, the epicenter of movie-making. Or is it? It used to be studio lots served as the backdrop for most movies. While studios are still used plenty, films are shot all over the world now. As proof, we collected the filming locations of the last 10 winners of the Oscar for Best Picture. When mapped, you can see that crews frequently go on location. Often they travel to where the film is actually set, but other times movie magic transforms a Southern California city into 1980s Iran.
View Oscar Filming Locations, 2005-2014 in a full screen map
The first thing you’re likely to notice are the predictable clusters: The King’s Speech in the UK, 12 Years a Slave in Louisiana, No Country for Old Men in the US Southwest and Slumdog Millionaire in India. In addition, much of the photography is international, with seven countries represented amongst the films. Perhaps most international, from a US perspective, is Hurt Locker. The bomb-disarming flick is the only winner from this group to film in multiple countries and not include the United States. It was filmed in Canada and Jordan.
Sticking to the international theme, this may be the most amazing fact on this map: between 2009 and 2011, the Best Picture winners were filmed entirely outside of the US. It’s hard to imagine another three year period where this is the case.
It should be noted that filming locations were gathered from IMDb’s user-generated lists, so they are unlikely to be exhaustive. That said, it’s also notable that only four of the ten pictures note filming locations in California. Though the state is large and diverse, quite predictably, the Los Angeles area makes up all California locations. The California location furthest from Los Angeles is the previously mentioned Ontario airport. 2013 winner Argo used the facility for the Tehran airport scenes.
Two films only list locations within California: Crash and The Artist. Both movies were also set in Los Angeles, so perhaps felt no need to look elsewhere. Million Dollar Baby only has one location outside of California and that was just a short trip away in Las Vegas.
Three-quarters of this year’s nominees have shunned California filming, at least according to the IMDb data available. Only American Sniper and Whiplash list locations in the Golden State.
View 2015 Oscar Nominations Filming Locations in a full screen map
This was a year for going to the location where the movie takes place. Boyhood is about growing up in Texas and was filmed around Austin, Houston and Big Bend National Park (also a filming location for 2008’s No Country for Old Men). The Imitation Game takes place and was filmed in locations across England. Selma, predictably, was used the United States South as a backdrop. And yes, that included filming in Selma itself. The Grand Budapest Hotel, however, shot throughout eastern Europe, but did not include Budapest itself.