Cape Ann, Massachusetts
Manchester by the Sea
There is something striking, even moving, about the setting of Kenneth Lonergan's latest film, Manchester by the Sea (nominated for Best Picture and five other awards). Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) is a solitary man working as a janitor who is called back to his coastal hometown after his brother's death. As he returns to Manchester-by-the-Sea to take care of his teenage nephew, he is forced to deal with a past that drove him away from the people he loved.
Visiting Cape Ann
The rocky Atlantic landscape of Cape Ann is a character in itself. Located 30 miles northeast of Boston, this charming stretch of coastline is an amazing fishing spot with beautiful harbor walls and walking trails. It's made up of four communities — Gloucester, Essex, Manchester-by-the-Sea and Rockport — and anywhere you go you'll find fresh seafood, friendly characters and beautiful natural sites to explore.
In Manchester-by-the Sea, meander along the shores of Singing Beach, a well-known spot named for the peculiar sound made by the sand as you walk on it. A few steps away, chef Matthew Gaudet's restaurant Superfine Food serves casual food including a daily barbecue special and pizzas topped with local farm-fresh ingredients. In Essex, take a guided tour along the Essex River and wander the biggest clam flats in the world. If whale watching is on your bucket list, make your way to Gloucester, the closest point in Massachusetts to the feeding grounds of Stellwagen Bank and Jeffreys Ledge. There, catch The Hurricane II to observe and learn about whales.
Superfine Food, 25 Union St., Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA. +1 978-526-0964; superfinefood.com
Essex River Cruises & Charters, 35 Dodge St., Essex, MA. +1 978-768-6981; essexcruises.com
Cape Ann Whale Watch, 415 Main St., Gloucester, MA. +1 800-877-5110; seewhales.com
Bangor Farm, Tasmania
Nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture, Lion is based on a true story about a 5-year-old Indian boy who gets lost from his family and is eventually adopted by an Australian couple. Twenty-five years later, Saroo (Dev Patel) attempts to find his biological family using maps, Google Earth and his childhood memories.
Visiting Bangor Farm
Part of Lion was filmed at Bangor Farm, located on the Forestier Peninsula in Tasmania. Vanessa and Matt Dunbabin's beachside farm property, complete with breathtaking coastline and beautiful forests, welcomed several members of the cast and crew. Bangor has a rich cultural history and is home to animals like the wedge-tailed eagle and Tasmanian devil. Strolling through native forests and grasslands, taking a wild bike tour along the coastline or just admiring the impressive views of the Tasman Bay are some of the activities you can enjoy in this wondrous destination. Visits to Bangor require an appointment, so plan ahead.
Blackman Bay Rd., Dunalley, Tasmania, 7177, Australia. bangor.com.au
Yangmingshan National Park, Taiwan
After searching for locations around the world, Martin Scorsese chose the magical scenery of Taiwan to film Silence, nominated for Best Cinematography. The historical drama is based on Shūsaku Endō's historical fiction novel of the same name, about two Jesuit priests facing a decisive test of faith as they search for their missionary mentor in Japan.
Visiting Yangmingshan National Park
Just outside Taipei is the stunning Yangmingshan National Park. In recent years it has become one of the most-visited national parks in Taiwan, offering mountains, lush rain forests, a rainbow of flowers, charming valleys and hot springs. Once there, you'll find well-maintained hiking trails leading to jaw-dropping views. Try dishes packed with local vegetables at the eateries around the park or book a night in the Yangmingshan Tien Lai Resort & Spa for a luxe experience.
Yangmingshan National Park, No. 1-20 Zhuzihu Rd., Beitou District, Yangmingshan, Taipei City, 11292 Taiwan. +886 2-2861-3601; english.ymsnp.gov.tw
Yangmingshan Tien Lai Resort & Spa, 208 New Taipei City, Jinshan District, Taiwan. +886 2-2408-0000; tienlai.com.tw
In Fences (nominated for Best Picture, Actor, Supporting Actress and Adapted Screenplay), based on August Wilson's play, director Denzel Washington also stars as Troy Maxson, a middle-aged garbage collector who played baseball before the major leagues began accepting black players. The film is set in Pittsburgh in 1957, showing a time when younger African Americans began to seize new opportunities, while older generations still felt the heavy burden of the past.
Harlem Renaissance poet Claude McKay baptized Pittsburgh's Hill District as “the crossroads of the world.” Its strong African American cultural heritage and the fact it was home to well-known artists such as August Wilson and photographer Teenie Harris made it the perfect setting to film Fences. Explore the neighborhood where renowned jazz artists such as Ella Fitzgerald used to play; The New Granada Theater once welcomed big-band jazz legends and kept nightlife swinging. The theater has not been restored (yet), but catching a glimpse of its art deco façade is totally worth it.
You might also want to check out the walkable neighborhood of West End Village, where you'll find a glittering downtown view, antiques shops and galleries. Downtown Pittsburgh is filled with fine restaurants such as The Commoner, where you can enjoy a steak-and-ale pie and sticky toffee pudding. Don’t forget to see a show at the Pittsburgh Musical Theater, visit the Andy Warhol Museum or try biking your way up the steep cobblestone-paved Canton Avenue (if you dare). For a taste of Pittsburgh's sports scene, put on your black and yellow to take in a Pirates game at PNC Park, which also offers incredible river views.
The Commoner, 458 Strawberry Way, Pittsburgh, PA. +1 412-230-4800; thecommoner.com
The Pittsburgh Musical Theater, 327 S. Main St., Pittsburgh, PA. +1 412-539-0900; pittsburghmusicals.com
The Andy Warhol Museum, 117 Sandusky St., Pittsburgh, PA. +1 412-237-8300; warhol.org
PNC Park, 115 Federal St., Pittsburgh, PA. pittsburgh.pirates.mlb.com
Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, the Australian-Vanuatuan film Tanna is based on the dreadful events that took place in 1987 in the Tanna community. Entirely shot in the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu, the film explores the theme of forbidden love and inter-tribal relations in a re-creation of a real story. Wawa (Marie Wawa) and Dain (Mungau Dain) belong to the same tribe, but in an attempt to make peace with an opposite tribe Wawa's marriage is arranged. As she runs away with her beloved, they are faced with murderous enemies and so is their village.
For travelers who seek relatively untouched tropical locales, the Vanuatu archipelago is a superb destination. Start by exploring the capital city of Port Vila and joining a wreck-diving activity, where you'll experience the incredible diversity of the natural environment. If you want to savor a couple of the island's gastronomic options, try one of the waterfront eateries, such as The Beach Bar or Kesorn's Exotic Thai. Once you reach Tanna island, explore the popular Mount Yasur volcano. When you reach the top, you'll want to make the moment last forever.
The Beach Bar, Hideaway Landing, Mele, Port Vila, Vanuatu. +678 560-1132; vanuatubeachbar.com
Kesorn's Exotic Thai, Efate, Port Vila, Vanuatu. +678 773-1751; exotic-thai.com