Best Oscar movies set in Philadelphia
This swooning Main Line rom-com from the glory days of Hollywood stars Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Ruth Hussey and Jimmy Stewart—who took home a Best Actor award for his role. Fun fact number one: The Academy’s engraver apparently misspelled Philadelphia on the trophy. Fun fact number two: Hepburn’s character was based on real-life Radnor socialite Hope Montgomery Scott. Lame fact: They shot the film in Culver City, California.
Won Best Actor; Best Writing, Screenplay
Nominated in four other categories
The story of Rocky Balboa, underdog boxer, symbolizes how Philly often feels about itself. (Well, before the big Eagles Super Bowl win, at least.) The Philadelphia Museum of Art steps are its most iconic film location, but Balboa also jogs through the Italian Market and makes an appearance in Kensington’s 1818 East Tusculum Street (the site of his apartment).
Won Best Picture, Best Director, Best Film Editing
Nominated in seven other categories
A bum (Eddie Murphy) and a snooty Rittenhouse type (Dan Akroyd) switch lifestyles for a week. The results are, predictably, hilarious. With many film locations in the Rittenhouse neighborhood, among the most decadent is the single-family home at 2014 Delancey Place (a few doors down from the Rosenbach Museum, where some staffers still remember the on-location film sessions).
Nominated for Best Original Song Score or Adaptation Score
A Philly cop (Harrison Ford) goes undercover with the Amish to protect a kid who witnessed a murder in a 30th Street Station bathroom, and ends up falling for widower mom Kelly McGillis. Their love is forbidden by the elders! The cop’s name is John Book!? Yeah, this Peter Weir thriller could’ve been a disaster, but it actually scored a Best Picture nomination. The city mouse/country mouse stuff is done rather tastefully and the performances are solid. Ford even got a Best Actor nom for beating up bad guys while wearing suspenders.
Won Best Original Screenplay and Best Film Editing
Nominated in six other categories
Before she played Samantha in Manhattan-based Sex and the City, Kim Cattrall played a mannequin come to life at Macy’s Center City. This classic ’80s rom-com also features Andrew McCarthy, James Spader and a more neon-hued Philadelphia.
Nominated for Best Music, Original Song
Filmed when public fear of the AIDS epidemic was at its height, Philadelphia follows the wrongful termination case for a gay lawyer with the virus. With film locations from UPenn’s Fine Arts Library to the Famous Fourth Street Delicatessen, the city of Philadelphia has a starring role in its eponymous flick.
Won Best Actor in a Leading Role (Tom Hanks), Best Music, Original Song (Bruce Springsteen)
Nominated in three other categories
This love triangle drama directed by Martin Scorcese and based on the classic Edith Wharton novel was filmed in the similarly classic Philadelphia Academy of Music on Broad Street. Catch a glimpse of what the orchestra section used to look like, back when people dressed up to go to the theater.
Won Best Costume Design
Nominated in four other categories
With its current museum status, it’s easy to forget that Fairmount’s assuming Eastern State Penitentiary was once a functioning prison harboring dangerous criminals. Twelve Monkeys is a good reminder, with scenes filmed at the Penitentiary, City Hall, the Pennsylvania Convention Center and the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts.
Nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Brad Pitt) and Best Costume Design
Haley Joel Osment may see dead people in this M. Night Shyamalan thriller, but we see Philadelphia. From the home of Osment’s character at 2302 St. Alban’s Place to the church now repurposed as Sanctuary Lofts at 2321 Fitzwater, Philadelphia plays a mute role in this and many other Shyamalan films.
Nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Osment), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Toni Collette), Best Director, Best Writing and Best Film Editing