Plus amazing female-centric stories and the Titanic script we didn’t know we needed.
The Black List 2016 was released this week and includes 73 scripts ranging from biopics to time travel adventures to Donald Trump to fruitcake heists and everything in between (literally everything). Founded by Franklin Leonard in 2005, The Black List is an annual survey of scripts currently not in production as voted on by development executives.
It's been said many times but it's worth repeating: #BlackList2016 is not a "best of" list. It is, at best, a "most liked" list.
It has since grown into an industry database, resource, and blog for screenwriters. Over 225 Black List scripts have been made into films, including Spotlight, Money Monster, Whiplash, Arrival, Stoker, The Voices, and Selma, so it’s safe to say screenplays from this year’s list will likely go on to become brilliant and award-winning films.
This year, Elyse Hollander’s Madonna biopic topped the list and three tied for second place:
Blonde Ambition (Elyse Hollander) is a Madonna biopic as she struggled to get her first album released; Life Itself, written by Dan Fogelman (This Is Us, Pitch, and Crazy, Stupid, Love), already has Oscar Isaac attached and is a “multi-generational love story that weaves together a number of characters;” The Olympian (Tony Tost) follows the true story of an underdog rower as he attempts to get to the 1984 Olympics (a cookie to whoever can figure out which rower this is!); and The Post (Liz Hannah) is about the Pentagon Papers scandal as reported by the Washington Post.
Dan Fogelman isn’t the only well-known name to appear on the list this year. Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler) has a script called Inner City, with Denzel Washington currently attached. Graham Moore is teaming up again with Imitation Game director Morten Tyldum for The Last Days Of Night, which follows a legal battle between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse to see who will provide America’s electricity. Hotel Artemis, a futuristic thriller by Drew Pearce, recently announced that Jodie Foster will star. And Mindy Kaling’s Untitled Late Night Comedy is set to co-star Emma Thompson alongside Kaling.
Stephen King fans can rejoice, as two King biopics made the list. We’ve decided that both definitely need to star Bill Hader, please and thank you:
The Kings of Maine (Kathy Charles) ‐ Living with his wife and child in a trailer while working as a janitor, Stephen King struggles with alcoholism and his own dark history as he attempts to complete Carrie.
Maximum King! (Shay Hatten) ‐ An outlandish, surreal imagining of how in 1985 Stephen King wrote and directed his horror classic Maximum Overdrive.
The Black List 2016 also features a slew of scripts with badass female-centric stories, some standouts being:
The Burning Season (Jenny Halper)- A primatologist takes her teenage daughter to a remote region of Madagascar, where her determination to save endangered lemurs puts their relationship and safety at risk. Based on the short story “What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves” Us by Laura Van Den Berg.
The Woman With Red Hair (Michael Schatz) The extraordinary true story of Johanna “Hannie” Schaft, a young woman who dropped out of college to join the Dutch Resistance during WWII, eventually becoming one of their most talented assassins and one of the Nazis’ most wanted enemies.
American Rebel (Christopher Cosmos) ‐ The true story of Deborah Sampson, a woman from Massachusetts who risked her life by disguising herself as a man and joining the Continental Army to help fight for independence during the Revolutionary War.
Barbarian (Rosalind Ross) ‐ Based on the true story of Boudicca, a queen and warrior of the British Celtic Iceni tribe who led an uprising against the occupying forces of the Roman Empire.
O2 (Christie LeBlanc) ‐ Waking up inside a cryogenic chamber with no memory of how she got there, Charlie must somehow escape the chamber before her air runs out.
Stephen King biopics, political scandals, and historical intrigues are great and all, but the real heroes of The Black List are:
I, Tonya (Steven Rogers): This is the Tonya Harding movie we’ve all been waiting for. It’s currently set to star Margot Robbie as Harding and Sebastian Stan as her husband so count us first in line on opening day.
James Cameron’s Titanic (Jen D’Angelo): It’s described as A Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead take on Titanic so do we need to say more?
The Gun Show (Lucas Carter): There is absolutely nothing better than a “I woke up in a different time period and don’t understand anything” story (be honest: the best part of Sleepy Hollow is Ichabod Crane trying to understand technology) so a cop from the 90s waking up in 2016 sounds like absolute perfection.
The Fruitcake (Trey Selman): How is there even $17 million worth of fruitcake available to heist?! We need answers and we need them now!
Rugged (April Prosser): We’re already imagining who should be cast in this film about “four dysfunctional female co-workers who get lost in the wilderness and must work together in order to survive.”