February 22, 2016

Take 2: Historic Sites in More of This Year's Best Films

In an earlier post, we highlighted historic sites that play a role in this year's top Oscar-nominated flicks, but the past year also saw great films that received less attention from the Academy, or were not even nominated for any awards at all.

Below, we shine the spotlight on the historic sites that make an appearance in these under-appreciated works that nonetheless deserve recognition.

A shot of the Italian Market in Philadelphia, featured in Creed and Rocky.

photo by: Vikram Verma/Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0

In "Creed," as in "Rocky," the protagonist makes an iconic run through Philadelphia's Italian Market.


Nominated for: Actor in a Supporting Role

A spin-off of the four-decade-long Rocky series, Creed tells the story of an aspiring boxer who becomes a student of Rocky Balboa, a friend of his late father. Like Rocky, Creed features iconic shots of the hero running through Philadelphia’s 9th Street Italian Market.

The market's roots date back to the 1880s, and today, it lays claim to the title of the country's longest continually operating outdoor market.

"Straight Outta Compton"

Nominated for: Writing (Original Screenplay)

Meanwhile, the music biopic Straight Outta Compton chronicles the meteoric rise of N.W.A. from South-Central Los Angeles to hip-hop stardom during the 1980s.

Several of the cultural landmarks shown in the film are now gone, so others stood in for them during filming. Catch One, a recently closed disco, stands in for Dooto’s, the club where Dr. Dre and Ice Cube first performed.

Meanwhile, N.W.A. played their first official concert at Skateland USA, a skating rink and music venue in Compton. Because the structure had deteriorated, a different, but similar-looking one—Glendale’s Moonlight Rollerway—was used in the film.

Finally, in the scene where N.W.A. plays one of its most popular songs in defiance of the police, the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena stood in for Detroit's Joe Louis Arena.

Wilshire Ebell Theater, as seen in Love & Mercy.

photo by: esimpraim/Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

"Love & Mercy" closes with footage of Brian Wilson performing at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles.

"Love & Mercy"

Nominated for: Not nominated.

Another music biopic that features some historic scenery is Love & Mercy, the moving, true story of Brian Wilson, the songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and vocalist of Beach Boys fame. In the last scene, Brian Wilson is shown performing at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles. The theater was also used in many other films, such as The Social Network.


Nominated for: Animated Feature Film

Charlie Kaufman’s Anomalisa was a truly groundbreaking production. Neither a children’s film nor a satire, the stop-motion animation feature deals with mature topics like loneliness, insecurity, and mid-life crisis.

In an early scene, the protagonist is in a taxi. Despite his disinterest, the cabbie bores him with detailed descriptions of how wonderful Cincinnati chili is, and how he can’t leave the city without trying it. Indeed, the Ohio metropolis is known for its unique chili.

A shot of a venue with famous Cincinnati chili.

photo by: Nicholas Eckhardt/Flickr/CC BY-2.0

The taxi driver in Anomalisa may have annoyed the protagonist, but he did have a point: Cincinnati chili is like nothing else you've tasted.

Though these films may not have been front and center when it comes to Academy Award nominations, the stories they tell, and the historic places they highlight, are certainly worth discovering in more detail.

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Read more about America's best eateries, including Cincinnati chili.

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.


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