America on Screen: 8 Cinematic Stateside Locations

In celebration of awards season (and Sundance Film Festival turning the grand old age of thirty) here are eight iconic locations from some of the most memorable, much-loved and highly acclaimed American movies of the past 50 years.

Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
Redondo Beach, California

A beautifully bittersweet comedy which follows the highs and lows of the dysfunctional Hoover family, as they journey across the country in their unreliable VW camper van. The main plot revolves around daughter Olive’s attempts to participate in a beauty pageant, while poking fun at the industry, and takes a poignant look at the dynamics of domestic life.

Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)
Isle de Jean Charles (The Bathtub), Louisiana

This fantastical and moving story of young heroine, Hushpuppy, takes place in an isolated bayou in the southernmost region of the States. As an approaching storm threatens her community, and a mythical race of creatures are unleashed by the change in weather, Hushpuppy sets off on a quest to find her mother, heeding the tough-love teachings of her father along the way.

Oh Brother, Where Art Thou (2000)
Valley Park, Mississippi

Homer’s Odyssey is transported to 1930s Mississippi in this tale of three wayward convicts trying to recover the bounty from one of their past heists. This eccentric comedy, complete with an array of odd characters, is made all the better by its brilliant bluegrass soundtrack, which would make for essential listening should you ever find yourself in the middle of the Great Plains.

127 Hours (2010)
Blue John Canyon, Utah

Though it may be long remembered as the film that had people fainting during its now infamous ‘dismemberment’ scene, there’s no denying that the destinations on display in this brilliant biopic are some of the most spectacular ever committed to celluloid. The unique topography of Utah provides a backdrop for Danny Boyle’s story of one man’s struggle for survival, after becoming trapped in a rock crevice on a climbing expedition. For the first half of the film, at least, you can’t help but want to step into the frame.

Close Encounters of The Third Kind (1977)
Devil’s Tower, Wyoming

It wouldn’t be right to include a list of seminal movie locations without referring to one of the most lauded sci-fi pictures of all time.

After several individuals experience otherworldly activity with unknown forces, their obsessions draw them together in finding out the meaning behind it all. Their journeys lead them to assemble at an imposing monolith in the Wyoming desert, where they each bear witness to an awe-inspiring event.

The Goonies (1985)
Captain George Flavel House Museum, Astoria, Oregon

Those of a certain age will have grown up idolising this whirlwind adventure about a gang of misfit kids searching for legendary buried treasure. The rugged woodlands of Oregon provide a perfect environment for the courageous group to explore, as set pieces range from stunning colonially influenced abodes to colossal underground caves. A perfect escape for your inner child.

Blues Brothers (1980)
Ray’s Music Exchange, Chicago, Illinois

What can possibly be said about Jake and Elwood that hasn’t already been said? The eponymous duo are bona-fide cult heroes and the story of their mission, to save the orphanage in which they grew up, gets even the most miserable audience members tapping their toes to the music. There are many spots in Chicago in which to relive their antics, but we recommend heading straight to the site of Ray’s Music Exchange and start shaking your tail feather.

There Will Be Blood (2007)
Marfa, Texas Borderlands

The ghost town of Marfa played host to Daniel Day Lewis’ powerhouse performance of gold-miner turned oil prospector, Daniel Plainview, in this adaptation of Upton Sinclair’s classic novel. The vast Texas vistas and unforgiving environments stand as very literal reminders of the main character’s personality and his detachment from society, while simultaneously hinting that the dramatic, deserted plains may just hide the one thing that will make his fortune.

Cover image credit: sinemabed

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