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Los Angeles' Union Station Has Had Its Share In the Movie Spotlight Before This Year's Oscars

Kristyn Burtt


"Union Station, Los Angeles" by On Location in Los Angeles is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The 93rd Academy Awards this Sunday, April 25 are going to put the beauty of Los Angeles on display. Usually, the show is in its home location at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, but the pandemic proved to be a formidable foe. While the home venue will be used for "additional elements," according to People, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, along with producers Steven Soderbergh, Stacey Sher and Jesse Collins, were forced to think outside the box and deliver a new, and COVID-safe, venue.

So this year the Oscars are going to be held for the first time at Union Station, where the Spanish Colonial Revival and Art Deco of the building will be on full display. The John and Donald Parkinson-designed structure might look familiar to you when you watch the show on Sunday night — it's been the scene of countless iconic TV and film moments. It fits right into the Oscar producers' plan to make this year's production "look like a movie, not like a television show,” they said in a joint statement. They are hoping that this "completely different take” on the ceremony won't "feel or look like any of the Oscar shows that you’ve seen.” Soderbergh told The Hollywood Reporter that he is hoping viewers with "fall into the experience of the show."

So if you catch a glimpse at the vaulted wood ceilings or the mosaic-tiled floor and feel like you've been there before — you probably have through the magic of the big (and small) screen. See how many of these nine films over the decades you've watched and perhaps next time, you will be able to spot the architectural jewel of Downtown Los Angeles: Union Station.

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

It's a train station, but it also made an excellent courthouse in 2012's The Dark Knight Rises. The Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy) presided over the trial against Bane's (Tom Hardy) enemies.

Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle (2003)

Filmmakers made Union Station downright sexy when they transformed parts of the building into villain Madison Lee’s (Demi Moore) gold-ensconced lair of doom for 2003's Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle. Downtown LA has never been so hot.

Catch Me If You Can (2002)

Union Station was the perfect stand-in for the Miami Mutual Bank in 2002's Catch Me If You Can. Once you recognize the architecture of the former ticketing area in the building, it's easy to spot how filmmakers use this space over and over again.

Star Trek: First Contact (1996)

The Union Station restaurant became the 1940s nightclub, The Big Goodbye, in the 1996 movie, Star Trek: First Contact.

Blade Runner (1982)

Union Station is so versatile because of its design structure. In 1982's Blade Runner, the venue easily morphed into a police station in futuristic Los Angeles.

Pearl Harbor (2001)

One of the few times a film decided to use Union Station as a train station was in 2001's Pearl Harbor. It proved to be the perfect backdrop for the World War II-inspired storyline.

Hail, Caesar! (2016)

In 2016, Hollywood gave Union Station the movie treatment by making the structure double as a film studio in the Coen Brothers' film, Hail Caesar! Not only is the interior of the campus featured, but the lush exterior gardens are on full display.

500 Days of Summer (2009)

2009's 500 Days of Summer is a love letter to Downtown Los Angeles, so naturally, Union Station is a part of the story. It was used for the exact reason it was built — a train station.

Garfield (2004)

Perhaps the cutest film to use Union Station is 2004's Garfield, the live-action movie with the famous Amtrak train scene. Garfield takes over the controls at the train station in Downtown L.A. and of course, mayhem ensues.

Before you go, check out "5 Must-See Los Angeles Filming Locations for Dance Fans."

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Kristyn Burtt is a commercial dance journalist, TV host and producer. She was the West Coast correspondent and host of "To the Pointe" on Dance Network for five years. Her coverage of "So You Think You Can Dance," "Dancing With the Stars" and "World of Dance" is popular with dance fans across the globe. Kristyn's love of dance began early in her life. She trained at the Boston Ballet School, danced with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre in "The Nutcracker" and won a dance scholarship to New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. She currently serves on the American Dance Movement’s Marketing & PR Committee and is a member of the Television Academy and SAG-AFTRA.

Los Angeles, CA

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