It’s February. It’s FREEZING. Sometimes there’s nothing else for it but to put on a good film and escape to some beautiful corner of the globe for a couple of hours.
I’m a huge film fan and there are certain films that I always reach for when I need a bit of inspiration or to quench my wanderlust on a Sunday night… here are 10 of my all-time favourites.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
I’m going to be honest with you – 10 minutes into this film, I nearly turned it off. But as someone who doesn’t give up on film or TV easily (I am one of the five people in the world who stuck with ‘Lost’ right until the bitter end..) I gave it a chance. And thank goodness I did, because I ended up getting sucked into a breathtaking and heart-felt world of adventure, fantasy, hope and imagination. All topped off with some of the most spectacular scenery I’ve ever seen in a film.
Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller) is a mild-mannered and unassuming negatives editor at ‘Life’ magazine, who has spent his life indulging in larger-than-life daydreams but never quite had the guts to make any of it a reality. A sequence of events at work forces Walter to break out of his comfort zone and embark on the greatest adventure of his life.
From the dramatic landscapes of Iceland to the far reaches of the Himalayas, this is a visually stunning film that is hard to beat when it comes to all the wanderlust feels. Throw in one of the best movie soundtracks of all time and you’ve got yourself the perfect travel movie.
Where you’ll want to go: Cycling through Iceland; hiking in the Himalayas, karaoke bar-hopping through Greenland.
Based on the best-selling travel memoir, the Oscar-nominated film adaptation of ‘Wild’ brings Cheryl Strayed’s adventures to life in the most beautiful and inspiring way.
After a series of personal tragedies, Cheryl (Reese Witherspoon) embarks on a journey of self-discovery and redemption, taking on the gruelling – but oh so beautiful – Pacific Crest Trail from the U.S./Mexico border all the way to Oregon.
What’s so inspiring about this story is that Cheryl is just your everyday girl taking on one of the world’s greatest trekking challenges. She’s a rookie through and through; over-packing her giant backpack (affectionately named “Monster”) and hitching rides from complete strangers on lonely desert roads. But she’s determined and strong and this film will speak to any solo female travellers out there, who are leaving their own footprints across the globe.
Where you’ll want to go: Hiking through the Sierra Nevada; camping under the stars.
Hawaii serves as the picture-perfect backdrop to countless Hollywood movies these days, thanks to its endless coasts and mystical mountain scenery. But ‘The Descendants’ shows us a much more authentic – yet just as ruggedly beautiful – side to the “aloha” state.
Shot on location in Oahu and Kauai, the film centres around the personal trials, tribulations and tragedies of Matt King (George Clooney) and his family, as they deal with some life-defining moments in “paradise”. As Matt is quick to tell us in the opening scene: “My friends on the mainland think just because I live in Hawaii, I live in paradise. Like a permanent vacation. We’re all just out here sipping Mai Tais, shaking our hips, and catching waves. Are they insane?”
It’s a truly brilliant film that scooped up countless awards at the time of its release. The scenery is mesmerising and it’s one of those rare films that will manage to make you laugh, weep and feel inspired, all at the same time.
Where you’ll want to go: Island-hopping and paradise-seeking in Hawaii.
La La Land
Oh La La Land. Love it or hate it, you can’t deny that this movie paints a rather dreamy picture of Los Angeles. I’m firmly in the ‘love’ camp (so much so, that the opening musical piece topped my Spotify most played list last year…)
The cinematography is stunning from beginning to end, whisking you back in time to a more nostalgic and romantic version of Hollywood. From the sunset-drenched piers of Santa Monica to the star-filled skies of the Griffith Observatory, this movie will make you want to hop on a plane and head straight to California for an adventure of your own.
Where you’ll want to go: Why, La La Land of course… and perhaps a quick jaunt across to Paris while you’re at it.
Lost in Translation
As a self-proclaimed film buff, I must confess I was embarrassingly late to the party with this one. I only watched ‘Lost in Translation’ for the first time last year but Sofia Coppola’s award-winning indie classic certainly stands the test of time as one of the all-time great destination movies.
Set against the backdrop of a melancholic, yet colourfully enchanting, Tokyo this film follows the unlikely friendship between faded actor, Bob Harris (Bill Murray), and Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) – a young American who finds herself homesick, neglected and alone in a completely alien city.
The film was set entirely on location and manages to capture the essence and intrigue of Japan perfectly. To this day, film fans from around the world still flock to the iconic Park Hyatt hotel, hoping to get a peek of the famous sky bar where much of the film takes place.
Where you’ll want to go: To the neon streets of Tokyo… and then straight back to the fuzzy familiarity of your own home.
This one might be a little more niche but it certainly deserves its place as one of the best movies to inspire wanderlust.
‘Elizabethtown’ is a quirky, black comedy that follows Drew (Orlando Bloom) – a failed designer as he makes his way cross-country to repatriate his father’s body. Along the way he meets Claire (Kirsten Dunst) – an air stewardess who is intent on changing his perspective on life.
The soundtrack is what makes this movie and the final 20 minutes play out to create one of the best road trip sequences you’ll ever see. If the ending doesn’t have you heading straight for the open road, windows down, music on, then I don’t know what will.
Where you’ll want to go: Road-tripping across the USA with nothing but the soothing vocals of Ryan Adams to keep you company.
You can always bank on great scenery in a James Bond film but Casino Royale might just take the biscuit.
As well as being one of the greatest and grittiest Bond films of the series, it’s also one of the best for whisking you away to some of the world’s most exotic landscapes.
From the glittering seas of the Caribbean (and not forgetting that all-famous Daniel Craig scene) to the mesmerising landscapes of Montenegro and Venice, it’s a real treat for the eyes and will make you want to book up your next trip in a flash.
Where you’ll want to go: Gambling in Montenegro (minus all the Bond-esque drama), horse-riding along the Caribbean coast; sailing in Italy.
“Adventure is out there”. Those four little words sum up what is hands-down one of the best wanderlust films of all time.
Despite being an animation, this film manages to absorb you into a beautiful and inspiring adventure about love, loss and the rediscovery of life.
The opening sequence is one of the most beautiful and heart-wrenching you’ll ever see and showcases Pixar at its absolute best. Seriously, grab the tissues. Adventure books full of blank pages and saving jars broken into to pay for life’s many unexpected obstacles… it’s a reminder to us all that life passes us by so quickly but that it’s never too late to discover this beautiful world and to make some unexpected friendships along the way.
Where you’ll want to go: To live in a house on top of a waterfall in South America; pretty much anywhere in a hot air balloon…
Into the Wild
Another one of my all-time favourite travel books, ‘Into the Wild’ follows the story of Christopher McCandless – a young, spirited and idealistic wanderer, as he sets off on a one-man pilgrimage to the remote Alaskan wilderness.
The less you know about this film the better, but you can expect breathtakingly beautiful scenery and another spot-on soundtrack, penned by Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder.
Where you’ll want to go: River rafting through the Grand Canyon; hitch-hiking in California; wildlife-spotting in Alaska. Anywhere with an open road…
And saving the best for last… I jest, I jest but I AM a sucker for a classic 80’s movie and ‘Cocktail’ has to be one of my greatest guilty pleasures of this era.
It’s Tom Cruise, shaking up cocktails in Jamaica, to the sounds of The Beach Boys… Need I say more?
Where you’ll want to go: To quit your job immediately, so that you can open up your own beach bar in the Caribbean.