Posted on Monday, December 16th, 2013 by Angie Han
Most year-end best-of lists consist of things that have already been produced, released, and consumed. But the Black List stands apart in that it’s all about the films that haven’t come out yet. Created by Franklin Leonard and Dino Sijamic, the annual compilation shines a light on the “most liked” unproduced screenplays of each year, as voted on by hundreds of Hollywood executives.
Not all of these films will get made, let alone made well, but the Black List still serves as a good indication of what projects are being buzzed about. Last year’s list included Transcendence and Rodham; Django Unchained and Saving Mr. Banks were among the highlights the year before that. Three out of the last five Best Picture winners were Black List scripts, as were seven of the past twelve screenwriting Oscar winners. Hit the jump to read titles and descriptions for the 72 that made the cut this year.
Though the Black List is composed entirely of unproduced screenplays, some are more, well, unproduced than others. In fact, one of them, Riley Stearns‘ Faults, isn’t unproduced at all — they just wrapped last week. (Voters may have cast their ballots before they learned Faults had begun shooting.) According to THR, 68% of this year’s crop have a producer attached, while 33% have a financier on board.
Biopics seem to be a favorite category for voters. Steven Spielberg and Mr. Rogers are the subjects of two screenplays each, and stories about Lewis Carroll, Oscar Wilde, David Foster Wallace, and Stanley Kubrick are also among the list. But there are really tales of every kind here, ranging from revenge thriller to cancer comedy to fairy tale prequel.
Here are all of the Black List screenplays along with their loglines. The numbers indicate how many votes each script got.
46 – Holland, Michigan
When a traditional Midwestern woman suspects her husband of infidelity, an amateur investigation unravels.
44 – Section 6
An exploration of Great Britain’s secret intelligence agency, Ministry Intelligence, Section 6, known more commonly as MI6.
39 – Frisco
A forty-something pediatric allergist, who specializes in hazelnuts and is facing a divorce, learns lessons in living from a wise-beyond-her-years terminally ill fifteen-year-old patient when she crashes his weekend trip to a conference in San Francisco.
27 – A Monster Calls
An adolescent boy with a terminally ill single mother begins having visions of a tree monster, who tells him truths about life in the form of three stories, helping him to eventually cope with his emotions over his dying mom.
25 – The Special Program
The true story of Jack Goldsmith, a young attorney who took charge of the White House’s Office of Legal Counsel, then courageously took on Vice President Cheney and his powerful inner circle when he discovered they were running a number of illegal activities through their so-called “Special Program.”
24 – Hot Summer Nights
A teenager’s life spirals out of control when he befriends the town’s rebel, falls in love, and gets entangled in selling drugs over one summer in Cape Cod.
24 – Sovereign
Geoff Tock, Greg Weidman
A man goes to space to destroy the ship that, upon going sentient, killed his wife.
22 – Shovel Buddies
Jason Mark Hellerman
Over twenty four hours, four teenage friends try to complete the “Shovel List” (a will/bucket list) left for them by their best friend before he died of Leukemia.
20 – Pox Americana
Frank John Hughes
In the Old West, a group of soldiers go on a mission to slaughter a peaceful tribe in retaliation for another tribe’s attack on a white settlement, only to suffer at the hands of a devastating disease.
20 – Reminiscence
Lisa Joy Nolan
An “archeologist” whose technology allows you to relive your past finds himself abusing his own science to find the missing love of his life.
20 – The Independent
With America’s first viable independent Presidential Candidate poised for victory, an idealistic young journalist uncovers a conspiracy, which places the fate of the election, and the country, in his hands.
19 – Beast
With the hope of starting over, a reformed criminal with an ultra-violent past returns home, but when he finds his own family leading his teenaged son down the same path of destruction, he will stop at nothing to save his child.
19 – The Golden Record
Aaron Kandell, Jordan Kandell
The true story of how Carl Sagan fell in love while leading the wildest mission in NASA history: a golden record to encapsulate the experience of life on earth for advanced extraterrestrial life.
19 – Faults
An expert on cults is hired by a mother and father to kidnap and deprogram their brainwashed daughter. He soon begins to suspect the parents me be more destructive than the cult he’s being hired to save her from.
18 – Sweetheart
A young hitwoman tries to escape the business but finds herself in more danger after a high school reunion and a one night stand.
17 – Superbrat
Eric Slovin, Leo Allen
Temperamental tennis champion John McEnroe is sucked into a dangerous and ludicrous law enforcement sting during Wimbeldon in 1980.
16 – Dogfight
A fifteen-year-old boy discovers that his kidnapped older brother has been living in a hidden, meth-producing compound and infiltrates the camp in hopes of helping his brother escape.
16 – The Civilian
Rachel Long, Brian Pittman
After an American doctor has his identity stolen by a covert operative, he must assume the dangerous mission of the one who stole it in order to clear his name.
15 – Burn Site
After a young teenage girl is murdered, her stepfather falls back on his dark and violent past to find her killer.
15 – Queen of Hearts
Oxford instructor Charles Dodgson (Louis Carroll) tells stories to the dean’s daughter Alice and her sisters while falling in love with the dean’s wife.
14 – Broken Cove
After his brother is found brutally murdered, a man hellbent on revenge returns to his decrepit Irish fishing village home armed only with a mysterious list of names his brother left behind.
14 – Gay Kid and Fat Chick
Two high school misfits become costumed vigilantes and take out their frustrations on the students who have bullied them throughout high school.
13 – 1969: A Space Odyssey or How Kubrick Learned to Stop Worrying and Land on the Moon
With NASA’s Apollo program in trouble and the Soviets threatening nuclear war, a female PR operative conspires with NASA’s Public Affairs Office to stage a fake moon landing in case Armstrong and Aldren fail, the goal being to generate public excitement that will aid the U.S. in winning the Cold War. But the op is faced with the biggest challenge of all: Filming the fake lunar landing with temperamental Stanley Kubrick.
13 – Autopsy of Jane Doe
Richard Naing, Ian Goldberg
A father/son mortician team try to uncover the cause of death on a Jane Doe. The more they uncover, the more mysterious and terrifying their world becomes.
13 – The Mayor of Shark City
Nick Creature, Michael Sweeney
When a difficult film shoot spirals hopelessly out of control into a living nightmare, an ambitious young director must face his greatest fears to turn a troubled production into the biggest movie of all time. Set on Martha’s Vineyard during the summer of 1974, this is the untold story of the making of JAWS.
13 – Where Angels Die
A street-tough, white social worker in the slums of Detroit acts on a dangerous and violent personal vendetta when he protects a young girl and her mother from her recently incarcerated, AIDS-infected boyfriend after he abruptly massacres a seedy strip club in a rage.
12 – A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Alexis C. Jolly
Set in 1950s Manhattan, Fred Rogers journeys from a naïve young man working for NBC to the host of the beloved children’s PBS show, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.
12 – Ink and Bone
When a female book editor visits the home of a horror writer so he can complete his novel, she finds that all of his creations are holding him hostage.
11 – The Boy and His Tiger
The true story of Bill Watterson, the creator of Calvin & Hobbes.
11 – The Killing Floor
Bac Delorme, Stephen Clarke
A war veteran slaughterhouse worker and his friend discover a small fortune in heroin hidden inside a processed cow and maneuver to hold onto their find and cash out to save his grandfather’s house as the bad guys come looking for their wayward stash.
10 – I’m Proud of You
Noah Harpster, Micah Fizerman-Blue
Based on Tim Madigan’s autobiographical novel of the same name. A journalist looking for a story about television’s role in the Columbine tragedy interviews TV’s Mr. Rogers and, as a friendship develops between the two, he finds himself confronting his own issues at home.
10 – Seed
After suffering a devastating miscarriage, a young woman and her fiancé travel to Italy where she meets his family for the first time, but her grief turns to shock when the local doctor declares that she’s still pregnant. And while her fiancé and his family seem delighted by the news, she begins to suspect their true motives are quite sinister.
10 – The Company Man
Based on true events. CIA agent Edwin Wilson went behind enemy lines to secure a weapons contract and report information back to the CIA shortly after the Cold War. He had a meteoric rise until company policies changed and he was unceremoniously fired, but he continued to operate as a man without a country and became public enemy number one in the US Attorney’s office.
10 – The Shark Is Not Working
When his big break finally arrives, an idealistic young movie director, Steven Spielberg, risks failing to complete the movie JAWS when his 25-foot mechanical shark stops working.
9 – Diablo Run
Shea Mirzai, Evan Mirzai
While on a road trip to Mexico, two best friends are forced to enter a thousand-mile death race with no rules.
9 – Randle Is Benign
Follows a woman in the 80s who works at an IBM-like company and is at the forefront of artificial intelligence research. When her project (named RANDLE) hits a major milestone indicating that she may have actually achieved AI, it is unexpectedly hijacked by the agenda of the company’s mysterious CEO. As she dives deeper into the corporate agenda, she learns that there may be a connection between her project and the 1981 assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan.
9 – Tchaikovsky’s Requiem
A conductor investigates the great composer’s seemingly unnatural death and unlocks the mysteries of the man himself while preparing to debut Tchaikovsky’s final symphony.
9 – The Crown
In exchange for a lighter prison sentence, a young hacker goes undercover for the FBI in a sting operation to find and steal a super computer virus with the help of a team of unsuspecting hackers.
8 – American Sniper
Jason Dean Hall
Based on Chris Kyle’s autobiography American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History.
8 – Cake
A woman who’s been suffering from chronic pain since the car accident that cost the life of her child finds the will to go on from the most unexpected places.
8 – Capsule
A young man’s life is turned upside down when he mysteriously begins to receive metallic capsules containing messages from his future self.
8 – Clarity
Ryan Belenzon, Jeffrey Gelber
What if the world woke up tomorrow to scientific proof of the afterlife?
8 – Elsewhere
Mikki Daughtry, Tobias Iaconis
After his girlfriend dies in a car accident, a man finds his true soulmate, only to wake up from a coma and learn his perfect life was just a dream—one he is determined to make real.
8 – Extinction
A man must do everything he can to save his family from an alien invasion.
8 – Fully Wrecked
Jake Morse, Scott Wolman
An R-rated talking car from the 80s is brought back into service and teamed up with the son of his former partner, a befuddled cop looking to earn his stripes.
8 – Half Heard in the Stillness
A young man who is inadvertently rescued after living ten years in the basement of the child predator who abducted him struggles to reunite with his family, while the detective in charge of his case investigates the link between his discovery and the recent disappearance of another local boy.
8 – Inquest
After the death of Princess Diana, a reluctant investigator is hired to ascertain whether her death was premeditated. And in the process, he begins to uncover a conspiracy that compromises his own safety.
8 – Line of Duty
Macbeth meets The Departed in this modern retelling of Shakespeare’s play, focusing on the tragic rise and fall of NYPD Officer Sean Stewart, a heroic narcotics detective pushed to the dark side of police corruption by his scheming wife and a well-time prophecy.
8 – Revelation
A prison psychiatrist meets a death row inmate on the verge of his execution who claims to be the only thing stopping the end of the world. As she begins to investigate his predictions, she finds them to be eerily accurate, and that she may be a central figure in the events to come.
8 – Spotlight
Josh Singer, Tom McCarthy
The true-life account of the Boston Globe’s breaking of the Catholic Priest scandal in 2003.
8 – The Line
Sang Kyu Kim
A corrupt border crossing agent must decide what is more important—saving his soul or inflating his bank account—when he discovers a young illegal boy who escaped a cartel hit on the border between the US and Mexico.
8 – The Politician
Matthew Bass, Theodore Bressman
A disgraced Governor and his underachieving accomplice go on the run from the FBI, US Marshals, and a gang of hardened drug dealers.
8 – Time & Temperature
Based on a true story, Dale Julin (a low-level Fresno affiliate morning show host) stumbles upon the biggest story of his life—and though he has reached the midpoint of his career without ever being a “real journalist”—risks his safety and his marriage to uncover the truth that a small Atomic bomb exploded in Central Valley California during the Korean War—a secret that has been hidden for decades.
7 – Dig
After his villainous father-in-law kidnaps his daughters, SOL, a tough-as-nails mountain man, travels across the frigid Appalachian mountains seeking vengeance.
7 – Make a Wish
A fourteen-year-old boy with terminal cancer has one last with—to lose his virginity—and convinces his reluctant football star Make-A-Wish partner to help him score.
7 – Man of Sorrow
Based on true events, the story centers on Oscar Wilde who goes from renowned playwright to losing everything personally and professionally.
7 – Nicholas
With the Roman empire on the brink of collapse, a 4th century bishop takes up arms to lead the armies of Constantine the Great into battle against the ruthless emperor, changing the face of Rome and begetting one of the greatest legends in history.
7 – Pure O
In order to overcome violent visions brought on by OCD, a promising young writer is urged by family and friends to step outside her comfort zone to experience the excitement and vulnerability of truly living.
7 – Sea of Trees
An American man takes a journey into the infamous “Suicide Forest” at the foothills of Mount Fuji with the intention of taking his own life. When he is interrupted by a Japanese man who has had second thoughts about his own suicide, and is trying to find his way out of the forest, the two begin a journey of reflection and survival.
7 – Sugar in My Veins
A fourteen-year-old female prodigy finds companionship for the first time when she befriends a handsome older man.
7 – The End of the Tour
Upon hearing of author David Foster Wallace’s suicide, writer David Lipsky recalls his 1996 interview with him.
7 – The Fixer
A man who works in wealth management and also has his hands in a number of less than ethical enterprises begins collaborating with a Los Angeles-based drug dealer. The dealer just so happens to have the man’s son as one of his runners in the drug-fueled LA nightlife.
6 – Beauty Queen
An unhappily married woman and her best friend go on a road trip to Las Vegas to compete in the Miss Married America competition.
6 – Bury the Lead
A desperate, attention-hungry journalist concocts a story that ironically proves to be true and finds himself engulfed in a dangerous underworld of murder and mayhem.
6 – Dude
The story of four best girlfriends who must learn how to move forward without moving on, as they come down off the ‘high’ of high school in this ‘Fast Times-esque’ teenage comedy.
6 – Free Byrd
After being diagnosed with dementia, a retired 50-something stunt motorcyclist sets out to perform one last jump.
6 – From Here to Albion
Rory Haines, Sohrab Noshirvani
A tragic accident in a coastal English town sets off a chain of violence when a malevolent assassin attempts to punish all involved, including a dirty cop who is intent on covering up the truth.
6 – Last Minute Maids
Two lovable losers run into trouble after they start a service cleaning up the stuff you don’t want your loved ones to find once you die.
6 – Mississippi Mud
In the middle of major financial problems, a down on his luck southerner’s life begins to unravel when he accidentally runs over and kills a runaway girl.
6 – Pan
A prequel to JM Barrie’s Peter Pan. When an orphan is taken to the magical world of Neverland, he becomes a hero to the natives and leads a revolt against the evil pirates.
6 – Patient Z
In a post-apocalyptic world full of zombies, a man who speaks their language questions the undead in order to find a cure for his infected wife.
6 – The Remains
Three former childhood friends with a complicated history get back together to spread the ashes of their friend who died recently.