A story of marital infidelity, Holland, Michigan, was this year’s winner on the annual Black List of most liked screenplays currently circulating in Hollywood. Also dominating the list of top vote-getters are stories about dying relatives (Frisco, A Monster Calls),stories of political power (Special Programs, The Independent) and dramatization of historical incidences (Pox Americana, The Golden Record).
The Black List was created in 2005 by 2005 by Franklin Leonard and Dino Sijamic and was immediately validated its very first year, when its number one voted screenplay went on to be the hit Juno. Previous Black List scripts include three of the last five best picture Oscar winners – Slumdog Millionaire, The King’s Speech and Argo – and seven of the last 12 screenwriting Oscar winners – Juno, Slumdog Millionaire, The King’s Speech, Argo, The Social Network, The Descendants and Django Unchained). Last year’s Black List topper, the football drama Draft Day, has already gone in front of cameras and the resultant film is scheduled for an April 2014 release. The other nine films in last year’s Top Ten are all in various stages of active development.
It is interesting to note that this year nearly 70% of the 72 scripts on the List already have producers attached, while one-third of them have some form of financing. And like last year, five of the writer or writing teams on the list do not have agents. Only four of the writers on the List this year have been on the Black List before.
As we’ve seen in years past, there are a few show business related scripts on the List again. Weirdly enough, there are two scripts looking at the difficulties that Steven Spielberg had while trying to film his classic Jaws – The Shark Is Not Working and The Mayor Of Shark City. Their inclusion here harkens back to 2007’s Alfred Hitchcock And The Making Of Psycho, which was ultimately filmed and released last year as Hitchcock. Stephany Folsom’s 1969: A Space Odyssey Or How Kubrick Learned To Stop Worrying And Land On The Moon looks to mine the conspiracy theory that the famed director helped NASA to fake the moon landing and then planted clues to that in his movie The Shining.
Another big winner is Elijah Bynum who placed two scripts on the List this year – Mississippi Mud and Hot Summer Nights.
Here is a rundown of the Top 10 vote winners (some with ties) and their loglines –
1. Holland, Michigan – Andrew Sodroski (46 votes)
“When a traditional Midwestern woman suspects her husband of infidelity, an amateur investigation unravels.
2. Section 6 – Aaron Berg (44 votes)
“An exploration of the formation of Great Britain’s secret intelligence agency, Military Intelligence Section 6, known more commonly as MI6.”
3. Frisco – Simon Stephenson (39 votes)
“A forty-something pediatric allergist, who specializes in hazelnut and is facing a divorce, learns lessons in living from a wise-beyond-her-years terminally ill patient when she crashes his weekend trip to a conference in San Francisco.”
4. A Monster Calls – Patrick Ness (27 votes)
“An adolescent boy with a terminally ill single mother begins having visions of a tree monster, who tellshim truths about life in the form of three stories, helping him to eventually cope with his emotions over his dying mom.”
5. The Special Program – Deborah Chan (25 votes)
“The true story of Jack Goldsmith, the young attorney who took charge of the White House’s Office of Legal Counsel, then courageously took on Vice President Cheney and his powerful inner circle when he discovered they were running a number of illegal activities through their so-called ‘Special Programs.'”
6. (tie) Hot Summer Nights – Elijah Bynum (24 votes)
“A teenager’s life spirals out of control when he befriends the town’s rebel, falls in love, and gets entangled in selling drugs over one summer in Cape Cod.”
6. (tie) Sovereign – Geoff Tock, Greg Weidman (24 votes)
“A man goes into space to destroy the ship that, upon going sentient, killed his wife.”
7. Shovel Buddies – Jason Mark Hellerman (22 votes)
“Over twenty-four fours, four teenage friends try to complete the “Shovel List” (will/bucket list) left for them by their best friend before he died of Leukemia.”
8. (tie) Pox Americana – Frank John Hughes (20 votes)
“In the Old West, a group of soldiers go on a mission to slaughter a peaceful tribe in retaliation for another tribe’s attack on a white settlement, only to suffer at the hands of a devastating disease.”
8. (tie) Reminiscence – Lisa Joy Nolan (20 Votes)
“An ‘archaeologist’ whose technology allows you to relive your past finds himself abusing his own science to find the missing love of his life.”
8. (tie) The Independent – Evan Parter (20 votes)
“With America’s first viable independent Presidential Candidate poised for victory, an idealistic young journalist uncovers a conspiracy, which places the fate of the election, and the country, in his hands.”
9. (tie) The Beast – Zach Dean (19 votes)
“With the hope of starting over, a reformed criminal with an ultra-violent past returns home, but when he finds his own family leading his teenaged son down the same path of destruction, he will stop at nothing to save his child.”
9. (tie) The Golden Record – (19 votes)
“The true story of how Carl Sagan fell in love while leading the wildest mission in NASA history: a golden record to encapsulate the experience of life on earth for advanced extraterrestrial life.”
9. (tie) Faults – Riley Stearns (19 votes)
“An expert on cults is hired by a mother and father to kidnap and deprogram their brainwashed daughter. He soon begins to suspect the parents may be more destructive that the cult he’s been hired to save her from.”
10. Sweetheart – Jack Stanley (18 votes)
“A young hitwoman tries to escape the business but finds herself in more danger after a high school reunion and a one night stand.”
You can read the complete list of this year’s Black List winners here.