As their press release reminds, 3 out of 5 of the most recent Best Picture winners and 7 out of 12 of the most recent Best Screenplay winners were all feature on The Black List before being picked up for production. When it comes to prestige titles, the annual survey of the best liked, unproduced scripts is peerless. Of course, their batting average comes naturally, considering that they’re asking hundreds of insiders for their favorite stuff. Some of those favorites are bound to get made and some are bound to be stellar.
Which puts the view of Hollywood executives as idiots who can only churn out sequels, superheroes and reboots into question. Or, at the very least, it puts their balancing act of riding tentpoles in order to create an adult drama or two into stark relief.
This year’s Black List is dominated by biographies, Hollywood stories (of course) and a giant shark that won’t work.
The full 2013 Black List is on their website, but here are a few (of the 72) loglines that caught my eye:
- The Boy and His Tiger, by Dan Dollar — The true story of Bill Watterson, the creator of “Calvin & Hobbes”
- Free Bird, by Jon Boyer — After being diagnosed with dementia, a retired 50-something stunt motorcyclist sets out to perform one last jump.
- Revelation, by Hernany Perla — 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.
- The Shark is Not Working, by Richard Cordiner — 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.
- Ink and Bone, by Zak Olkewicz — 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.
- A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, by Alexis C. Jolly — Set in 1950s Manhattan, Fred Rogers journeys from a naive young man working for NBC to the host of the beloved children’s PBS show, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.
- Gay Kid and Fat Chick, by Bo Burnham — Two high school misfits become costumed vigilantes and take out their frustrations on the students who have bullied them throughout high school.
- Queen of Hearts, by Stephanie Shannon — Oxford instructor Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) tells stories to the dean’s daughter Alice and her sisters while falling in love with the dean’s wife.
- Superbrat, by Slovin and Allen — Temperamental tennis champion John McEnroe is sucked into a dangerous and ludicrous law enforcement sting during Wimbledon in 1980.
- Section 6, by Aaron Berg — An exploration of the formation of Great Britain’s secret intelligence agency, Military Intelligence, Section 6, known more commonly as MI6.
Even though it’s relatively young, The Black List has already begun the process of making itself obsolete by combining analytics and an open door policy to create a pay-based system for aspiring writers to get their work into the hands of producers. In fact, a handful of the screenplays that made this year’s cut originated on their website.
So congratulations to all who find their work featured this year. Here’s to the next step and to hoping that we get to see those special projects come to fruition. Next year’s Oscar ceremony awaits.