Oscar-Worthy Travel Movies

My Top Ten Films About Flying, Hotels, Aviation, Miles & Points

Oscars are just around the corner and I’ve been streaming a lot of movies at home in an attempt to watch the contenders before the April 25th awards ceremony. That’s how I discovered one of the films included in this list of my top ten films about travel, planes, hotels, aviation, and the miles and points hobby.

During the pandemic I watched another five hundred films, included many old favorites. Nine of them are included here and still make me smile when I watch them. All are fun–my main criterion. I hope you’ll enjoy them, too.

10. Crazy Rich Asians (2018)

Peik Lin: Damn, Rachel. He’s like the Asian Bachelor.

Crazy Rich Asians, starring Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Gemma Chan, Lisa Lu, Awkwafina, Ken Jeong, and Michelle Yeoh, is set primarily in glittering Singapore, following a flight in suites class (JFK-SIN) on a Singapore Airlines lookalike. This film will make you fall in love with romantic comedies and move Singapore to the top of your travel list.

If you’re stuck at home during the pandemic, put on your Singapore Airlines PJs, grab your popcorn, and wallow in the opulence of Crazy Rich Asians.

Top inflight movie.

Fun fact: Most of Awkwafina’s lines as Peik Lin Goh were improvised.

Rent or buy from Amazon or watch with HBO Max.

9. Sully (2016)

We’re going in the Hudson.

Sully, a/k/a Sully: Miracle on the Hudson, is biographical drama film directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Tom Hanks as Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger. The film follows the 2009 emergency landing of US Airways Flight 1549, piloted by Sullenberger, on the Hudson River, and the subsequent publicity and NTSB investigation.

Cast includes Laura Linney, Katie Couric, and Anna Gunn.

Rent or buy from Amazon.

8. The Terminal (2004)

You — you have two stamp. One red, one green.

The Terminal is a comedy-drama film produced and directed by Steven Spielberg starring Tom Hanks as Viktor Navorski, an Eastern European man stuck at a JFK Airport terminal after being denied entry into the US because of passport and visa complications resulting from a coup in his country that took place while he was in the air.

As farfetched as it may seem, the film was partially inspired by the true story of the 18-year stay of a passenger in Terminal 1 of Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (1988 to 2006). The Terminal will make you laugh and cry and feel good about the world.

Cast includes Stanley Tucci, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Kumar Pallana.

Available on Prime Video and Hulu.

7. Up In the Air (2009)

I don’t spend a nickel, if I can help it, unless it somehow profits my mileage account.

Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) enjoys living out of a suitcase for his job, travelling around the country firing people, and racking up airline miles (ten million is his goal). His hobby and his lifestyle, which includes casual hookups, is threatened when a new hire (Anna Kendrick) presents a new business model that would eliminate his travel.

Beautifully written, smart, funny, bittersweet, and entertaining. Clooney at his best.

Cast includes Vera Farmiga, Jason Bateman, and Sam Elliott.

Memorable quote: Alex Goran : We’re two people who get turned on by elite status. I think cheap is our starting point. Ryan Bingham : There’s nothing cheap about loyalty.

Rent or buy from Amazon or watch with HBO Max.

6. Airplane! (1980)

There’s no reason to become alarmed, and we hope you’ll enjoy the rest of your flight. By the way, is there anyone on board who knows how to fly a plane?

A laugh a minute, Airplane! takes off with a near-perfect cast. Lloyd Bridges, Peter Graves (Pilot), and Leslie Nielsen (Doctor) head up a brilliant ensemble. It’s absolutely silly and a bit naughty, too, but if you need a good laugh, get a boarding pass for this one. The dialogue is unforgettable. A timeless classic.

Cast includes Ethel Merman, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Julie Hagerty, and Robert Hays

Memorable quote: Pilot Surely you can’t be serious. Doctor I am serious, and don’t call me Shirley.

Rent or buy from Amazon or watch with STARZ.

5. Lost in Translation (2003)

“Bill Murray’s acting in Lost in Translation is surely one of the most exquisitely controlled performances in recent movies.” -Roger Ebert

A romantic comedy-drama film written and directed by Sofia Coppola. Fading movie star (Bill Murray) Bob Harris is having a midlife crisis when he travels to Tokyo to promote Suntory whiskey. He meets a neglected young woman (Scarlett Johansson) who is staying at the same hotel and the two form an unlikely bond.

Globalists will recognize supporting actor Park Hyatt Tokyo.

Rent or buy from Amazon.

4. Fly Like a Girl (2019)

“Astronaut might be fun. But the food? Not really.” -11-year-old Afton Kinkade

Follows women who dared to aim higher, from Lego-loving young girls who include female pilots in their toy airplanes, to courageous women who helped lead shuttle missions to space.

An inspiring documentary about pioneering women pilots.

Cast includes Tammy Duckworth (interviewee) and retired NASA astronaut Nicole Stott.

Available on Hulu and Prime Video.

3. Catch Me If You Can (2002)

Leonardo DiCaprio as Frank Abagnale Jr.

This is a hugely watchable and fun account of the youngest person on the FBI’s Most Wanted list. Leonardo DiCaprio delights as Frank Abagnale Jr., a skilled, bold, and charismatic forger who passed as a doctor, lawyer and pilot.

Cast includes Tom Hanks, Christopher Walken, Martin Sheen, Amy Adams, Jennifer Garner, James Brolin, Ellen Pompeo, Elizabeth Banks.

Rent or buy from Amazon.

2. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

Keep Your Hands Off My Lobby Boy!

Set in the 1930s, the Grand Budapest Hotel is a popular European resort, presided over by charismatic concierge M. Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes).  Showy, arrogant, and meticulous in his work, he wears a scent called “Eau de Panache.” He keeps clients happy by charming everyone in his wake.

Junior lobby boy, Zero, is Gustave’s protege. Gustav schools Zero in the art of first-class service and understanding what a guest wants and getting it for them before they even think of it.

All-star cast includes Adrien Brody, Jeff Goldblum, Jude Law, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Owen Wilson.

Available on Prime Video.

1. Soorarai Pottru (2020)

Suriya as Nedumaaran Rajangam (Maara).

Released Nov 12th, Soorarai Pottru (transl. hail the brave) is a Indian Tamil-language drama (subtitles). The protagonist, Nedumaaran Rajangam “Maara,” a young man from a remote Indian village, dreams of launching his own airline and making flying available to the common man. In the process he takes on the world’s most capital-intensive industry as well as several enemies and faces outrageous challenges.

Inspired by the book “Simply Fly,” the film also tells the romantic story of courtship and marriage in India when the bride is a strong-willed, independent, and unconventional woman. Their charming story reminds us of the value of a supportive woman to a successful man. She puts up with nothing and lifts him up when he needs it most.

Paresh Goswami, the character portrayed in the film, is widely believed to be inspired by Naresh Goyal of Jet airways. Following the 2005 IPO of Jet Airways, Forbes magazine declared him the 16th richest person in India. Going up against him is no small task. Hail the brave, indeed!

The film was made available for screening at the 93rd Academy Awards, but was not nominated. You heard it here first.

Available on Prime Video.

I hope you enjoy these films and that they keep your spirits up while we wait to get back in the air. Personally, I want to go back to Singapore first. Then I want to go to Krakozhia and post a photo of the passport stamp in Every Passport Stamp.

Thanks for stopping by Splendor in the Lemongrass and enjoy the Oscars!


  1. Hi Chris,
    This is a very interesting list. I’ve seen many of these, but not all. So, I look forward to seeing more of them. Thanks for posting these.


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