Each December since 2004, studio executive Franklin Leonard has compiled the best unproduced screenplays of the year, as voted by hundreds of execs, agency guys, and high-level assistants. Titled The Black List, the compendium highlights both established screenwriters and up-and-comers, and has served as a launching pad in the past for projects like Juno, Lars and the Real Girl, and (500) Days of Summer. Last year’s list included Margin Call, Crazy, Stupid, Love, The Hunger Games, and Snow White and the Huntsman.

It should be noted that the headline is somewhat misleading — some of these screenplays have already been acquired and are already in development, though according to Leonard none will have entered principal photography by December 31, 2011. Also worth pointing out is that, as in previous years, there have been rumors that some of the participants have been accused of using the Black List to promote their own clients or friends. Finally, as Leonard reminds us each time, “The Black List is not a ‘best of’ list. It is, at best, a ‘most liked’ list.”

Regardless, we can always rely on the Black List to stir up conversation among both industry insiders and outside spectators alike, so without further ado, hit the jump for the complete 2011 list.

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Move over Dune, your time is up. Iain M. Banks‘ The Culture is finally coming to the big screen.

The first of Banks’ science fiction novels to portray ‘The Culture’ was Consider Phlebas, published back in 1987. That was when I was a young teenager and always keen to find the next big thing in genre literature, so having loved Banks’ The Wasp Factory, I scooped it up hungrily and was almost instantly sucked into something so much bigger, more complex and awesome than I had dared to expect.

The scope of this one novel was extraordinary, introducing readers to a quite incredibly sophisticated portrayal of a socialist-anarchist utopia, but Banks didn’t stop there and kept filling out the details of his world in a long running series of short stories and novels that continue to this day. Both gripping reads and astute philosophical and political debates, The Culture stories are, for my money, the best thing in modern sci-fi publishing. If you’ve so far got no idea about Banks but are a sci-fi fan, I’d strongly recommend getting a grounding in the milieu from Wikipedia – and then rushing out and buying a heap of books.

The first realisation of The Culture in cinema will be an adaptation of the brilliant short story A Gift From the Culture.

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