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If There Was A 'Most City' Oscar, LA Would Win. It's Starring In 3 Best Picture Nominees

Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. (Andrew Cooper)
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We're apparently even more in love with ourselves than usual this year. The Oscar nominations are out, and this year's nine Best Picture nominees include three heavily Los Angeles-based stories.

L.A. and Hollywood often show up on screen, but with filmmakers often making efforts to not just tell Los Angeles stories, it's notable to see more of those being told at the Academy-nominee level this year. Here are some of the on-screen L.A. specifics you'll find in three of this year's most critically acclaimed films.


Matt Damon and Christian Bale in Ford v Ferrari. (Merrick Morton)
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Ford v Ferrari has a globe-spanning story of the battle between Ford and Ferrari, with races around the world, but its real-life main characters were based in Los Angeles.

Carroll Shelby, played by Matt Damon, was a Le Mans champion who went on to design cars -- and sell them here in L.A. His Shelby American would build high performance parts and sell modified cars, based out of Venice during the time of the film.

Test driver Ken Miles, played by Christian Bale, worked with Shelby testing prototypes at LAX. One of the other iconic locations you'll spot in the film comes in the movie's post-Le Mans coda, as Miles crashes while testing a car at the Riverside International Raceway.

And while the movie heads to international competitions, culminating in France's famed Le Mans 24-hour competition, there's another reason the movie may feel local -- those locations were all recreated and shot here in Southern California. That includes everything from a downtown L.A. steel factory doubling for a Ford plant to Santa Clarita's Agua Dulce Airpark being used to stage the Le Mans race.

You can see Ford v Ferrari cars at the Petersen Automotive Museum through this weekend. They're also hosting a Ford v Ferrari-themed panel during the Petersen's All-American Car Cruise-in on Jan. 26, featuring the author of the book that inspired the movie, Ken Miles' son, and Carroll Shelby's grandson.


Pussycat Theatre -- A recreation on the Hollywood Boulevard set of Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. (Else Duff)

The most obviously L.A. movie of the bunch (the title's a clue), director Quentin Tarantino set about recreating 1960s Hollywood to give his movie the period authenticity that he wanted. The movie follows an actor and his stuntman, played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt, loosely inspired by the relationship by Burt Reynolds and his own stuntman.

It also follows Margot Robbie's Sharon Tate, playing with the reality around her own fate at the hands of the Manson Family.

So that the film's protagonists could cruise Hollywood Boulevard, the filmmakers brought back the rainbow exterior of 1969's Aquarius Theater, turned the ArcLight's Cinerama dome back to its vintage appearance, and more.

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They even brought back some of the seedier side of Hollywood -- the Hologram USA Theater turned back into the Pussycat Theater, which showed adult films at the time. They also had to completely shut down Hollywood Boulevard to capture some of the film's iconic shots -- made possible with the help of Tarantino making the pitch to local stakeholders.

Other changes included the restaurant interiors, which served as virtual time machines. Musso & Frank's was repainted to get it just right, and El Coyote got a touchup. El Coyote's a key part of the movie's real world history, as it's where Sharon Tate had her last meal.

The movie's SoCal locales also include Hollywood studios, the Playboy Mansion, the Manson Family's Spahn Ranch, and the Hollywood Hills homes where the movie's big finale takes place.


A still from Marriage Story. (Wilson Webb)

Marriage Story is the one film here set in the modern day. It follows Charlie (Adam Driver) and Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) as they go through a divorce, starting in New York before Nicole decides to move out West.

Rather than big iconic locations, this movie's L.A. scenes are set more around suburban homes. Nicole moves out to L.A. from New York after being offered a role in a TV pilot, living with her mother in West Hollywood and bringing the couple's son with her.

Charlie ventures out to L.A. to be closer to their son and make the case for custody, initially visiting before renting an apartment. The film's conflict is driven by the lawyers each character hires in Los Angeles.

It's an intimate story, with L.A. life playing an increasingly large role as the film progresses. Keep an eye out for the very L.A. take on Halloween, and finding where exactly to take L.A. kids trick-or-treating.

Ford v Ferrari is in theaters now. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is available on home video. Marriage Story is available on Netflix.