Franklin Leonard’s Black List has become something of a cultural phenomenon, and for good reason. Every year he compiles the list, a compendium of the best scripts that are floating around Hollywood but not getting produced, and creates a media stir by publishing them. This, in turn, makes studio heads give the scripts another look, and many times put the projects into production. Every year the Black List is one of the main ways that we get movies made that aren’t sequels, remakes, or film versions of consumer products that have brand recognition but no inherent storytelling potential; so I am in full support of giving it all the publicity possible.
How are titles chosen for the list? According to the list itself, “The Black List was compiled from the suggestions of over 300 film executives, each of whom contributed the names of up to ten of their favorite scripts that were written in, or are somehow uniquely associated with, 2011 and will not have begun principal photography during this calendar year.”
Topping the list this year, with 133 votes, is a script by Graham Moore called The Imitation Game (a script Warner Bros has the rights to, and that Leonardo DiCaprio has been rumored to be circling). It’s the life story of Alan Turing, who was the British cryptographer that cracked the German Enigma Code in WWII, and who committed suicide later in life after being prosecuted for homosexuality. Those 133 votes make The Imitation Game the big winner, and therefore the script most likely to benefit from this year’s list. Comparatively, the second film on the list got 84 votes. It’s a script titled When the Street Lights Go On by Chris Hutton and Eddie O’Keefe that tells the story of a town dealing with the aftermath of a brutal double murder in the early ’80s.
Looking through the rest of the top ten reveals another WWII story, a movie about Peter Mayhew’s experience playing Chewbacca, a zombie movie, a “what if” sci-fi yarn about the Apollo 11 mission, a movie about a guy going on a crime spree with his 11-year-old daughter, and that’s just the beginning. Taking a further look down this year’s lengthy list reveals scripts about the life of Grace Kelly, more zombies, Jurassic Park, killers, sex tapes, drug deals, and what have you. Give it a look, if you’re interested, and see what Hollywood may have in store for us next year, now that they’ve been taken to task.