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Pittsburgh-made movies in categories all their own

| Saturday, March 1, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Christian Bale stars in Relativity Media’s 'Out of the Furnace.'

Hollywood in Pittsburgh. At first, it made no sense, like oil and water, toothpaste and orange juice, Cleveland and championships. How are these things possibly compatible?

But the recent made-in-Pittsburgh movie boom doesn't seem to be abating. It's even starting to get a little, well, normal. Even detours for supervillian standoffs, or Chloe Sevigny name-dropping your favorite bar.

Hollywood is here to stay (as long as our state tax credits are in order — otherwise, hello New Orleans!). What's not to like? You can shoot an upper-middle-class suburban teen coming-of-age story and a post-apocalyptic wasteland in the same afternoon! This peculiar partnership has resulted in some good movies. Some money-makers. Some under-the-radar hits. Even a blockbuster or two.

Now, we want something tangible. It's time to take this relationship to the next level. We want gold. Little shiny gold men. Oscars.

(“Silence of the Lambs” got us a little, but that was decades ago. Besides, you can never have too much gold.)

Unfortunately, the Pittsburgh-shot movies this year just aren't going to do it.

But ... if you squint just right, and rearrange the categories a little ... nope, still nothing.

But if you make entirely new categories, the Made-in-Pittsburgh Oscars could really be a thing (The Golden Potholes?). To make it interesting, you'd have to consider all the movies made in Pittsburgh, ever.

Here are some possible categories:

Best performance (by Pittsburgh, as another city)

• As Trenton, N.J., in the '80s in “One for the Money” (2012)

• As Chicago in the '80s in “Love & Other Drugs” (2009)

• As New York City in the '50s in “A New York Heartbeat” (2010)

• As Gotham City in “The Dark Knight Rises” (2012)

Best performance (in a tunnel)

• “Perks of Being a Wallflower” (2011). Emma Watson's ride through the Fort Pitt Tunnel, standing in the back of her friends' pickup, is kind of the highlight of the movie, which has the makings of a low-key, coming-of-age cult classic.

• “Jack Reacher” (2011). Tom Cruise races through some tunnels.

• “My Bloody Valentine 3-D” (2008). Some of its creepiest scenes are in the Tour-Ed Mine in Tarentum.

Best fight at the game

• “Sudden Death” (1995). A helicopter crashes inside the Civic Arena, and Jean-Claude Van Damme fights a terrorist wearing the Penguins' mascot costume.

• “Kingpin” (1996). Has some bowling-related violence.

• “The Dark Knight Rises.” Hines Ward running back a touchdown for the Gotham City Rogues, as the field collapses behind him, is kind of hard to beat.

Best eats (food)

• “The Bread, My Sweet” (aka “A Wedding For Bella,” 2002) features Scott Baio ditching the corporate world to make dough at Enrico's Biscotti.

• “She's Out of My League” (2008). The odd-couple leads have a terrific date at an outdoor restaurant in Market Square, romantically enfolded in lush greenery and lit by twinkling lights. Back then, Market Square was mostly known for panhandlers and open-air drug sales. Was this a harbinger of Market Square's current, lively food-centric incarnation?

• “Flashdance” (1982). The restaurant scene was filmed inside the Grand Concourse restaurant in Station Square.

Best eats (people)

A startling percentage of actors in Pittsburgh-shot movies end up getting eaten, whether by zombies, psychotic serial killers or roving cannibal gangs.

• “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991). Serial killer

• “The Road” (2008). Cannibals

• “Innocent Blood” (1992). Vampires

• “Night of the Living Dead” (1968). Zombies

Best acting (as a Yinzer)

• Russell Crowe in “The Next Three Days” (2009)

• Nick Nolte in “Warrior” (2009)

• Elizabeth Banks in “Zack & Miri Make a Porno” (2008)

• Christian Bale in “Out of the Furnace” (2012)

Nobody really attempts the yinzer accent, but none of these people would look out of place stumbling down Carson Street at 2 a.m., or waiting for a bus on Smithfield Street. Plus, they've all been in multiple movies here. Bale has to be the favorite, though, for working in a steel mill and getting the Braddock ZIP code tattooed on his neck for “Out of the Furnace.”

Best abandoned factories

• “Out of the Furnace.” Filmed in Braddock with the Carrie Furnace playing a prominent role.

• “Gung Ho” (1986). Shot in Beaver.

• “Flashdance” (1983). Some factory scenes were shot at the Homestead Works.

That's what you're here for, right? Sure, we've got your crumbling symbols of past glory right here ...

Best returning star

• Russell Crowe in “The Next Three Days” and the upcoming “Fathers & Daughters”

• Christian Bale in “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Out of the Furnace”

• Kevin Smith, director of “Dogma” (1999) and “Zack & Miri Make a Porno”

• Anne Hathaway, “Love and Other Drugs” and “The Dark Knight Rises”

• Elizabeth Banks, “The Next Three Days” and “Zack & Miri Make a Porno”

• Matt Damon, “Dogma” and “Promised Land” (2012)

Best cameo by a sports team

• “Abduction” (2011). Taylor Lautner outruns the bad guys at PNC Park while attending a Pirates game.

• “Sudden Death.” The action all takes place during a Stanley Cup playoff game with the Penguins vs. the Blackhawks.

• “Slapshot” (1977). This hockey classic used players from the then-active North American Hockey League Johnstown Jets as extras.

Best use of rivers/bridges

• “Striking Distance” (1993). Bruce Willis is a former homicide detective demoted to patrolling the rivers.

• “Inspector Gadget” (1999). Matthew Broderick, as the title character, can be seen zooming over the city's buildings and bridges.

• “Gung Ho.” Michael Keaton and his Japanese counterpart, Gedde Watanabe, have a pivotal scene while arguing in the river.

Michael Machosky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7901 or

Backstage pass

During the Academy Awards on March 2, movie fans can get a second screen experience with “The Oscars Backstage” on the WATCH ABC app.

Pulling live footage from cameras on the red carpet and backstage at the Dolby Theater, “The Oscars Backstage” gives viewers access to three channels that highlight what's going on behind the scenes during the awards telecast. Viewers will be able to toggle between “The Oscars Backstage” camera positions, such as the Thank You Cam, Winners Walk and Audience and Press Room, and the live telecast. The app is available on iPhone or Android device.

The “Oscars Backstage Experience” will be hosted by entertainment reporter and film critic Ben Lyons, ABC World News contributor Hitha Prabhakar, People magazine's Peter Castro and Good Morning America's Chris Connelly. Video highlights from the ‘Oscars Backstage' and live telecast will be available on demand almost immediately after they air at

The Oscars begin 7 p.m. March 2 on ABC.

— USA Today

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