The 13th edition of the Black List is out, highlighting the “most liked” (not “best of”) unproduced screenplays as voted on by over 300 film executives who could choose up to 10 scripts each. So far, 446 previous Black List scripts have been produced, including On The Basis of Sex; All the Money in the World; I, Tonya; The Revenant; Spotlight; Slumdog Millionaire; Juno; Looper; and John Wick. Black List scripts have grossed over $26 billion worldwide and won 4 of the last 10 Best Picture Oscars and 10 of the last 22 Best Screenplay Oscars. In other words, at least one of the scripts outlined below may be taking home a trophy someday, although not every Black List script has gone on to great financial and/or critical success (Passengers, Meet Dave, Mortal Engines).
This years’ list included 73 scripts with at least 7 votes each (a total of approximately 640 scripts garnered at least one vote). The winners were announced via a short film (above) starring Paul Scheer, which is fitting considering one of Scheer’s many jobs includes co-hosting the How Did This Get Made? movies podcast. The video is filled Easter eggs referencing the 73 winning scripts, which probably led to many screenwriters squinting at the screen hoping to see a title they recognize.
Each years’ winners tend to fit a timely pattern. Two years ago, competing biopics were popular. Last year, scripts about woman righting wrongs were common. This year sees a more diverse than usual set of stories as well as several scripts about technology companies run amok. Tech-related storylines were so common this year that we’re including them in our yearly roundup, which usually focuses on sci-fare and supernatural fare.
Whereas many years’ winning scripts star men, this years’ winners (like last years’) showed more variety. As Franklin Leonard of the Black List points out, representation for female characters, writers, and agents has been improving steadily:
There was also a surprising amount of representation for transgender folks like yours truly. There were three scripts with trans lead characters, including Rub and Tug, which caused a controversy earlier this year when Scarlett Johansson was cast as a transman (instead of playing, for example, his cisgender girlfriend). Johansson later dropped out of the project.
Apropos of nothing, this years’ winners also include a Vanilla Ice biopic (To The Extreme by Chris Goodwin and Phillip Van) and a script involving a young Samuel L. Jackson competing for a student election (The Kings of Cool by Jon Dorsey), which are two projects we never thought about until today and yet we’re not sure how we ever lived without them.
Here are the twenty-four sci-fi, tech, and supernatural Black List 2018 screenplays:
Frat Boy Genius by Elissa Karasik (36 Votes)
A disgruntled employee of Snapchat tells the rise of her former Stanford classmate, preeminent douchebag and current boss Evan Spiegel.