If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past few weeks – you know that we’re smack in the middle of movie-awards season.
Today the nominees for this year's Academy Awards were announced, and last week the Golden Globes were handed out. So with that said, we thought this would be the perfect time to take a look at some award-wining movies that inspire us to travel.
First up on the list: ‘The Descendants’ starring George Clooney. “I remember watching the trailer for ‘The Descendants’ and thinking, this is such a wonderful commercial for Hawaii,” Jason Clampet, senior online editor for Frommers, told FoxNews.com. “It goes a little beyond the beaten path and shows us the sites that locals know about.”
One of those sites in the movie is a 25,000-acre land trust on Kauai that Clooney’s character, Matt King, is overseeing for his family. It’s a breathtaking piece of coastline – pristine and untouched. And honestly, if you haven’t been to Hawaii, seeing this landscape on the big screen will make you want to go.
By the way, the acting and directing in the movie is not half bad either. ‘The Descendants’ took home top honors at the Golden Globes and is now nominated for best picture, best actor (George Clooney) and best director (Alexander Payne) among other things.
And while we’re on the subject of Alexander Payne, his 2004 Oscar-winning flick “Sideways” not only flung Santa Barbara wine country into the spot light, but it had people turning up their noses at Merlot and guzzling down Pinot Noir instead.
“This is a great example, and I think all of the tourism boards probably want Alexander Payne to come film his next movie in their area,” Clampet joked. “When ‘Sideways’ came out, I was in Japan at the time and they were having ‘Sideways’-themed dinners at restaurants in Tokyo, which is quiet a distance away from there. They were doing California cuisine and wine pairings based on things from the movie.”
The movie had such an immediate effect on people that sales of Pinot Noir jumped by 16 percent nationwide and 34 percent in California in the first three months after the film was released. It’s not just about the wine either. People still travel to the Santa Ynez Valley – the region where "Sideways" was filmed – to check out the vineyards: the Hitching Post II Restaurant (a key filming location), and some visitors even request the same room where Miles (Paul Giamatti) and Jack (Thomas Haden Church) shacked up during their wine-fueled getaway.
"The Central Coast got a real good shot in the arm from 'Sideways,'" Jack Sparrow, a wine tasting consultant at Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard in Los Olivos, told the Los Angeles Times in a 2009 article. "I think there were people who lived 50 miles away but didn't know there was wine growing here."
Next up: Woody Allen’s ‘Midnight in Paris’ This Oscar-nominated romantic comedy starring Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams will make you fall in love with the City of Lights over and over again. “This movie is stuffed with nostalgia,” Clampet said. “One of the great things about Paris during this time of the 20’s was that there was this explosion of culture and creative energy. Physically that still is there. It’s not as if it was torn down and a new skyscraper was put up in its place. You can still walk those same streets and some of the same restaurants are still open, and so it’s almost like stepping onto a film set when you go there.”
Today, it may not be the same Paris of the bohemian 1920’s that Wilson’s character walks into each night at midnight, “but that’s one of the great things about Paris,” Clampet said. “That same culture and energy is really not going to go away. That’s why it’s such an inspiring place – whether it’s ‘Midnight in Paris’ or any one of a thousand other movies.” Clampet pointed out the same goes for Rome, which was the setting for the 1953 Audrey Hepburn film, “Roman Holiday,” which was nominated for 10 Academy Awards. In the end, the film took home three statues including one for Hepburn for best actress.
Speaking of past films that really show off what a destination has to offer, ‘The Lord of the Rings’ Trilogy ranks right up there as one of the best examples.
“I think looking back, ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy really changed the face of tourism in New Zealand,” Clampet said. “The marketing campaigns based on those movies were such a huge game-changer.”
The three movies, called a “nine-hour advertisement for New Zealand,” by some even inspired a travel phenomenon known as “Tolkien Tourism,” which had fans flocking to New Zealand to see Middle Earth for themselves. In recent years, tourism has slowed a bit, but the Kiwis are hopeful it will be booming again following the this year’s release of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” the first part of Peter Jackson’s prequel to the Oscar-winning “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.
“I think the big thing for travelers is that movies are very visual,” Clampet said. “They play with our emotions in a way and travel can be very similar. You want to feel certain things when you travel, you want to feel inspired and you want to escape and movies often offer that.”
So the next time you’re planning a trip, look to your favorite flicks for a little guidance. It may just lead you on an adventure of a lifetime. “It’s almost like looking to a guidebook for expert advice,” Clampet said.
“You see people in a movie doing something, and you want to do that as well. That’s what makes it so exciting.”