This year, 250 development executives and agents participated in the poll by submitting individual lists of ten screenplays that they felt were “favorite scripts that were written in, or are somehow uniquely associated with, 2008 and will not be released in theaters during this calendar year.” The result is a list that is not so much a “best of” tally but a list of “most liked” screenplays currently circulating through Hollywood.
Given that Things We Lost In The Fire, Juno and Lars And The Real Girl were the first three films listed on the Black List’s inaugural edition, the List can be a good barometer of quality projects to keep an eye out for. Of course, with the List’s rapid rise in popularity, some have started accusing studio execs and agents of pushing their own projects onto the list as a way to get them some wider exposure.
All of the screenplays in the Top 10 have some form of activity surrounding them, though I would be surprised if as many as half of them got in front of the cameras. There are a few in the runners-up that will see life as well. Some have already started production, like Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds and Tony Peckham’s Sherlock Holmes. Those that fall by the wayside through not fault of their own, simply being nothing more than the victims of the way things work in Hollywood.
Out of all the titles that made the list, I’ve only read Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds. But then again, who hasn’t at this point? Almost all of the scripts have interesting sounding log lines. (A couple of the named screenplays have found their way onto my desk recently, though I haven’t had the chance to dig into them yet. And if anyone wants to pass along any more, you can find the contact button over on the right.)
Some of the premises do sound familiar. F***buddies and The F Word sound like variations on a plot already seen on screens this year in Kevin Smith’s Zack And Miri Make A Porno. A Bittersweet Life is an English adaptation of a fantastic Korean film, while Jar City is an adaptation of Baltasar Kormakur’s film. The 47 Ronin is based on the most popular legend in Japan, one which has been translated to film several times already.
The Top 10 follows after the break. You can download the complete 2008 Black List report here (PDF).
1. The Beaver by Kyle Killen (67 mentions)
“A depressed man finds hope in a beaver puppet that he wears on his hand.”
2. The Oranges by Jay Reiss and Ian Helfer (61 mentions)
“A man has a romantic relationship with the daughter of a family friend, which turns their lives upside down.”
3. Butter by Jason Micallef (44 mentions)
“A small town becomes a center for controversy and jealousy as its annual butter carving contest begins.”
4. Big Hole by Michael Gilio (42 mentions)
“An old cowboy goes on a mission to recover his money after a million dollar sweepstakes scam cleans out his entire bank account.”
5. The Low Dweller by Brad Ingelsby (40 mentions)
“A man trying to assimilate into society after being released from jail discovers that someone from his past is out to settle a score.”
6. F***buddies by Liz Meriwether (39 mentions)
“A guy and a girl struggle to have an to realize they want much more.”
7. Winter’s Discontent by Paul Fruchbom (34 mentions)
“When Herb Winter’s wife of fifty years dies, the faithful but sexually frustrated widower moves into a retirement community to start living the swinging single life.”
8. Broken City by Brian Tucker (29 mentions)
“A New York private investigator gets sucked into a shady mayoral election.”
9. I’m With Cancer by Will Reiser (24 mentions)
“A autobiographical comic account of one man’s struggle to beat cancer.”
10. Our Brand Is Crisis by Peter Straughan (22 mentions)
“Based on the eponymous documentary. James Carville and a team of U.S. political consultants travel to South Abecome President of Bolivia.”