Row of Oscar Statues

photo by: Reuters Pictures

February 22, 2016

Envelope, Please: Historic Sites in 2016's Oscar-Nominated Films

In 2016, the red carpet was unrolled, the cameras flashed, and the 88th Academy Awards were handed out. But while we watched to see who makes history, we were also on the lookout for the history we already know and love.

Below, we explore the historic sites that got their star turn in some of 2016's top nominated films.

Shot of the Coney Island boardwalk.

photo by: Robert/Flickr/CC BY NC

Featured in "Brooklyn," Coney Island is Brooklynites' favorite place for cheap summer entertainment.


Nominated for: Best Picture, Actress in a Leading Role, Writing (Adapted Screenplay).

America's history as a nation of immigrants is often reflected in its film industry. Brooklyn is the latest work in this cinematic tradition. It tells the classic story of a girl named Eilis from rural Ireland who moves to New York to find a better life.

Once in the States, she meets Tony, an Italian-American plumber. In one scene, Eilis and Tony go on a date to Coney Island. This Brooklyn beach getaway has for decades been the preferred place for Brooklynites to spend lazy summer afternoons. In addition to an ideal swimming spot, Coney Island features many amusement park rides and snack vendors (including Nathan’s, the world-famous hot dog stand).

Coney Island has made appearances in many classic movies as well, including Woody Allen’s Annie Hall (1977) and Darren Arronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream (2000).

An interior shot of a retro subway car as shown in the movie Bridge of Spies.

photo by: NYC Transit Museum/Flickr/CC BY SA 2.0

Old subway cars from the New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn were used in Steven Spielberg's "Bridge of Spies."

"Bridge of Spies"

Nominated for: Best Picture, Actor in a Supporting Role, Music (Original Score), Production Design, Sound Mixing, Writing (Original Screenplay).

In addition to popular works such as E.T. or Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Steven Spielberg has tackled diverse historical topics in his films. This year, Spielberg's Cold War spy thriller, Bridge of Spies, is up for six Oscars, including Best Picture.

Spielberg’s film follows Rudolf Abel, an American spy for the Soviet Union who becomes the subject of a Soviet-American barter. Throughout the film, Abel is shown taking the New York subway system.

But those midcentury-style trains seen in the film are no longer in service, right?

Surprisingly, some are still in use. Others shown in the film are on display at the New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn. The museum had lent several trains to Spielberg’s crew, including a 1949 car in which all interior subway scenes were shot. Although the museum is the best place to see the retro cars, every so often they are rolled out so that New Yorkers can take nostalgic rides.

An exterior shot of Longue Vue House and Gardens.

photo by: Navin75/Flickr/CC BY SA

In "Trumbo," New Orleans stood in for suburban Los Angeles, and many scenes were shot in the Longue Vue House and Gardens.


Nominated for: Actor in a Leading Role.

Since we’re on the topic of the Cold War, let’s mention Trumbo, a drama based on the true story of Dalton Trumbo, an American screenwriter blacklisted under McCarthyism for his communist connections. The film’s titular protagonist is played by Bryan Cranston (the dad in Malcolm in the Middle and the notorious Walter White in Breaking Bad), whose strong performance is up for Best Actor.

The film takes place mostly in the suburbs of Los Angeles between the 1940s and 1970s. However, in this case, New Orleans actually stood in for the LA suburbs. Multiple scenes were shot at the Longue Vue House and Gardens, a New Orleans Classical Revival property listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

A shot of Steve Jobs' childhood home, now a historic site.

photo by: Wally Gobetz/Flickr/CC BY NC 2.0

Steve Jobs' childhood home, where he invented Apple computers with his friends, is a historic landmark.

"Steve Jobs"

Nominated for: Actor in a Leading Role, Actress in a Supporting Role,

Michael Fassbender is nominated for Best Actor for his role as Steve Jobs in this heralded biopic. And though the creation and emergence of Apple and its products aren't quite that old, there is some cool history to keep an eye out for in this flick.

Jobs’ childhood home is shown in the film, and is actually a designated historic site by the Los Altos Historical Commission. In fact, the garage of 2066 Crist Dr. in Los Altos, California, is where Jobs and fellow geeks Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne designed the first Apple computer and made computing history in the 1970s and 1980s.

"The Revenant"

Nominated for: Best Picture, Actor in a Leading Role, Actor in a Supporting Role, Cinematography, Costume Design, Directing, Film Editing, Makeup and Hairstyling, Production Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Visual Effects.

Alejandro González Iñárritu’s latest film tells the story of fur trader Hugh Glass, who battles bitter cold, attacks from both Native Americans and white traders, and a gnarly grizzly somewhere in the lands of the Louisiana Purchase.

As I watched The Revenant, I constantly wondered which state the picture was filmed in. Wyoming, Montana, or maybe in either of the Dakotas?

In fact, while parts of the film were shot in the mountains of Argentina and Canada, many of its scenes showing the brutality and beauty of nature were filmed in Montana, near the Yellowstone River, just east of Billings.

By purchasing any of these products using the Amazon links on this page, you'll be supporting the National Trust. A small portion of the sales comes back to us to support our work. Looking for other ways to support preservation? Consider giving a gift membership to the place-lover in your life.

Filip Mazurczak is an editorial intern at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. He previously worked as a freelance journalist, translator, and editor. He is from Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Forty of the most important, most interesting, and quirkiest American places 40 years old or less. See the list and vote for your favorites now through January 18.

Vote Now