The 86th Annual Academy Awards had a special Louisiana-flair. The ceremony was hosted by New Orleans-native Ellen Degeneres. Louisiana-shot “12 Years a Slave” won the Oscar for Best Picture and Lupita Nyong’o won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the film. “Dallas Buyers Club,” filmed in New Orleans, earned Matthew McConaughey the Oscar for Best Actor. Bossier City, Louisiana’s native son Jared Leto also took home the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the Louisiana-shot movie. Robin Mathews, a New Orleans native, also won the Academy Award for Best Makeup for her tireless behind the scenes efforts on the Louisiana set of “Dallas Buyers Club.” Louisiana, also known as Hollywood South, had indeed arrived and it did so in splendid fashion.
The week after the 86th Academy Awards, a study of the film industry revealed that Louisiana led the world in film production, hosting more major film shoots than even Los Angeles, California. Louisiana’s generous tax incentives have brought the Bayou State to the forefront of the movie industry with many calling the state Hollywood South. What are the best movies ever filmed in Louisiana, you ask? You will no doubt recognize some of these films as Hollywood South productions since they were actually set in and shot in Louisiana, but some others might surprise you since the state was playing stand-in for other locations.
15 – “Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles” (1994)
The adaptation of Anne Rice’s iconic novel grossed over $200 million at the box office and the film earned Oscar nominations for Best Art Direction and Best Original Score.
14 – “Steel Magnolias” (1989)
Small-town Louisiana made it to the silver screen when this iconic movie hit theaters and Julia Roberts was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
13 – “Beasts of the Southern Wild” (2012)
This fantastical bayou tale earned four Academy Award nominations and won the Camera d’Or Award at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, putting Louisiana and the state’s indie-movie scene in the spotlight.
12 – “Monster’s Ball” (2001)
This dramatic movie won critical acclaim and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. Halle Berry’s performance in the Louisiana-shot movie earned her the Oscar for Best Actress.
11 – “Sex, Lies, and Videotape” (1989)
Steven Soderbergh’s directorial debut won the Palme d’Or at the 1989 Cannes Film Festival and forever changed the way independent movies were made and viewed.
10 – “Ray” (2004)
The Louisiana-set “Ray” received widespread critical acclaim with the film earning Jamie Foxx the Academy Award for Best Actor and also winning the Oscar for Best Sound Mixing.
9 – “The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call – New Orleans” (2009)
Nic Cage’s performance as a drug-addicted crazy policeman in New Orleans earned the film and the actor rave reviews. The Louisiana-shot movie was a critical darling, making many of the year’s top 10 lists, including Roger Ebert’s.
8 – “Dead Man Walking” (1995)
Critics and audiences responded very favorably to this dramatic film set in and shot in Louisiana. The movie received four Oscar nominations with Susan Sarandon winning the Academy Award for Best Actress.
7 – “JFK” (1991)
Oliver Stone’s conspiracy-riddled recount of the JFK assassination brought in over $200 million at the box office and received favorable reviews from critics. The Louisiana-shot movie earned a whopping eight Academy Award nominations, winning Oscars for Best Cinematography and Best Film Editing.
6 – “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (2008)
Just as people were starting to call Louisiana Hollywood South, this Brad Pitt movie that was set in and filmed in New Orleans hit theaters, drawing in over $300 dollars at the box office. “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” was nominated for 13 Academy Awards, winning Oscars for Best Art Direction, Best Visual Effects, and Best Makeup.
5 – “Killer Joe” (2011)
“Killer Joe” was dark, gritty, violent, and disturbing as would be expected from a movie directed by William Friedkin of “The Exorcist” fame. The Hollywood South film did not fare well at the box office in its limited theatrical release, but critics raved and it received praise on the independent film circuit, putting the McConaughssance in motion.
4 – “Django Unchained” (2012)
Quentin Tarantino’s “spaghetti southern” took advantage of Louisiana’s generous tax credits and reeled in over $400 million at the box office. The Louisiana-shot movie garnered critical praise, making the AFI list of 2012’s top 10 movies and earning five Academy Award nominations with Christoph Waltz taking home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor and Quentin Tarantino winning the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.
3 – “True Detective” (2014)
While “True Detective” is technically an episodic television series, the cinematic quality of the filming, brilliant writing, and compelling acting lifted it to the quality expected from major theatrical releases. Nic Pizzolatto’s vision brought Louisiana to the homes of HBO viewers and Hollywood South’s significance became apparent. The show’s massive popularity broke HBO Go during the first season finale.
2 – “Dallas Buyers Club” (2013)
The Dallas-set film was filmed in New Orleans due to Louisiana’s generous tax credits and the results were astounding. “Dallas Buyers Club” was nominated for six Academy Awards and the gripping Louisiana-shot movie won the Oscar for Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Makeup.
1 – “12 Years a Slave” (2013)
Hollywood South had arrived big time at the 86th Annual Academy Awards. Audiences helped this masterful Louisiana-shot movie ring up over $150 million at the box office and the film garnered nine Oscar nominations, winning Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
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