The 2009 Travel Movie Awards

Lists: With the Oscars on the way, Eva Holland picks the year's travel highlights on film

03.05.10 | 10:42 AM ET

Publicity still via IGN

I‘m pleased to announce my picks for the third annual, always arbitrary and thoroughly biased Travel Movie Awards.

“Up in the Air” is the best known among this year’s travel-related movies, but there were also some less-lauded movies that took viewers on a journey or evoked a sense of place.

And the top travel movie award goes to…

Best Depiction of Airworld: “Up in the Air”

As fans of the Walter Kirn novel, we’d been waiting a long time for this Jason Reitman-directed adaptation. Reitman’s sterile, stylized world of frequent fliers, shiny airport corridors and bird’s-eye-view footage did not disappoint.

Most Enticing Summer Purgatory: “Adventureland”

This sweet and funny period piece offers the best re-creation of a time and a place that I saw all year. Protagonist James, played by Jesse Eisenberg, plans to spend a post-college summer backpacking in Europe, but the trip falls through when his family runs into money trouble. Instead, he winds up working long and humiliating hours at the local amusement park, where smart writing, a well-balanced cast of quirky characters and a scruffy setting do the rest. Who knew minimum wage at a theme park in 1987 Pittsburgh could seem so appealing?

Best Postcard in Movie Form: “The Proposal”

In between the goofy antics and the predictably gooey finish, this green card wedding rom-com put Sitka, Alaska, on my must-see list.

Most Bleakly Compelling Setting: “Sherlock Holmes”

With its CGI setting—a grimy, 19th-century London that seems made up almost entirely of shades of gray—and its oh-so-pretty cast, Guy Ritchie’s take on the Baker Street crime-fighting duo feels at times as though a Calvin Klein ad campaign wandered into a Dickens novel. And yes, that’s a compliment.

Best Celebration of Tourism Stereotypes: “My Life in Ruins”

Okay, so the latest from Nia Vardalos, star of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” isn’t necessarily on comedy’s cutting edge. But there’s something fun and fulfilling about seeing all the standard tourist stereotypes and package-tour gags—the sort of stuff one might poke fun of, say, on a travel blog—up on the big screen. Bonus points for all the delicious armchair Greek travel.

Most Impossible to Watch on an Empty Stomach: “Julie and Julia”

Go ahead, just try to watch Meryl Streep’s turn as Julia Child in this fun foodie true story without feeling an urge to immediately jump on a plane to Paris with your hollow leg in tow.

Best Portrayal of Slackers in the Land of Botox: “I Love You, Man”

Two years ago, “Knocked Up” landed this award when its merry band of stoners showed me another side of Los Angeles. Now I Love You, Man claims the same prize, thanks to Jason Segel’s air guitar-playing, tiny dog-walking, Uggs-and-boardshorts-wearing Sidney Fife, the bane of every jogger on the Venice Beach boardwalk. I love you, man.

Eva Holland is co-editor of World Hum. She is a former associate editor at Up Here and Up Here Business magazines, and a contributor to Vela. She's based in Canada's Yukon territory.

2 Comments for The 2009 Travel Movie Awards

Carl 03.05.10 | 1:51 PM ET

Just an FYI that most of “The Proposal” was filmed in Rockport, MA. 03.08.10 | 10:41 AM ET

Thanks for posting this.  There could be some travelers and travel writers out there who have a knack for writing novels and screenplays.  One day, their movie along with them will be nominated for an Oscar!  It could happen.

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