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.
Get Home Safe by Christy Hall (34 Votes)
A young woman must get home by herself on Halloween with no cell phone battery and a group of gamergate trolls out to get her.
Harry’s All Night Hamburgers by Steve Desmond and Michael Anthony Sherman (30 Votes)
A down-on-his-luck high school senior discovers that the old roadside diner outside of town is secretly a hangout for parallel universe travelers. He sets off on a mind-bending adventure across the multiverse that takes him beyond his wildest dreams.
Cobweb by Chris Thomas Devlin (29 Votes)
Peter has always been told the voice he hears at night is only in his head, but when he suspects his parents have been lying, he conspires to free the girl within the walls of his house.
The Worst Guy of All Time (And the Girl Who Came to Kill Him) by Michael Waldron (26 Votes)
Barret is a social media influencer, the worst guy ever, and the eventual President of the United States. Dixie is a badass freedom fighter, sent back from 2076 to kill him before he takes over the world and ruins the future. They f*cking hate each other. Then they accidentally fall in love.
Analytica by Scott F. Conroy (21 Votes)
The true story of Chris Wylie and Cambridge Analytica.
The Broodmare by Michael Voyer (20 Votes)
When a recovering member of Alcoholics Anonymous decides to make amends with his high school sweetheart, he soon realizes that her newfound love of equines may have some darker, more sinister connections.
Just the Facts by Kenny Kyle (19 Votes)
The riveting true story of AJ Daulerio’s meteoric rise from obscure sports blogger to Editor-in-Chief of Gawker Media during the wild, heady early days of the digital journalism boom, culminating in the Hulk Hogan sex tape trial, which brought about Gawker’s downfall and set a precedent for billionaires to attack the media and free speech.
In Retrospect by Brett Treacy and Dan Woodward (14 Votes)
When a man’s estranged wife gets lost inside of her own mind during an experimental procedure, he must navigate her subconscious to find her in the memories of their past.
The United States of America v. Bill Gates by Justin Kremer (12 Votes)
An inexperienced and idealistic twentysomething finds himself at the center of the largest anti-trust suit in modern American history when his idol, billionaire behemoth Bill Gates, wages war against his young internet company.
Meet Cute by Noga Pnueli (12 Votes)
When a woman finds a time machine in a downtown Manhattan nail salon, she uses it to keep traveling back in time 24 hours to make her previous night’s date perfect.
Just Girl by Bill Kennedy (10 Votes)
After the United States survives a vampire war, a young human girl going through puberty learns that she may be turning into a vampire.
73 Seconds by Shawn Dwyer (10 Votes)
The extraordinary true story of Bob Ebeling and Roger Boisjoly, the aerospace engineers who discovered the “o-ring anomaly” that led to the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. After struggling to convince their superiors at Morton-Thiokol and NASA to investigate the anomaly, Ebeling and Boisjoly were tasked with proving it: an extremely complicated and expensive endeavor that took an emotional toll on their lives but helped bring about changes to the Shuttle Program that saved the lives of future astronauts.
The Beast by Aaron Sala (9 Votes)
After a plane crash in the Pacific Ocean, a woman finds herself marooned on an island with a bloodthirsty beast.
Dark by Nelson Greaves (9 Votes)
When the crew of an oil rig begins to drill on one of the deepest stretches of the ocean floor, they awake a dark and dangerous creature that has been hidden away for hundreds of years.
Naked Is The Best Disguise by Graham Moore (9 Votes)
In a near future in which illegal new technology allows specific memories to be removed from one person’s brain and inserted into anothers, a woman who deals in black market memories is accused of murdering a man she does not remember knowing.
The Second Life of Ben Haskins by Matt Kic and Mike Sorce (9 Votes)
Ben Haskins loses his battle with cancer, leaving his beloved wife Kat a widow. About twenty years later, a mysterious new technology has brought Ben’s consciousness back – but into a different body, one belonging to a more recently deceased man. After acclimating to his new self, Ben asks to be reunited with his long lost wife, only to discover she has opted never to see him again. Convinced this must be a mistake, Ben enlists a new friend to help him in the search to win back the love of his (former) life.
29th Accident by Alanna Brown (9 Votes)
A young man tragically loses his wife on the day of their wedding. He is devastated, until four years later on their wedding anniversary, he awakens to find his beloved wife alive and well beside him.
AMA (Ask Me Anything) by John Wikstrom (7 Votes)
A highly publicized AMA (Q&A) session between a fast-rising publicist and an aging music icon quickly turns into a deadly game of cat and mouse when the event is seized by a hacker who systematically beings revealing dark secrets from both of their pasts, forcing them to publicly confront the horrific events they’ve committed on the largest social media platform in the world.
Inhuman Nature by Matt Fisch (7 Votes)
When bio-tech titan Van Danzen is falsely convicted of murdering his business partner, he sends his greatest creation — a spitting-image humanoid robot — to serve a life sentence in his place. However, the humanoid’s militarized programming sends him on a rampage to escape prison and hunt those responsible for his creator’s set-up and imprisonment.
The Interventionist by Colin Bannon (7 Votes)
When renowned interventionist Warren Man’s daughter, Christy, suffers a relapse and her family is forced to deal with their inner demons at the site of a tragedy that tore them apart, it slowly becomes clear that this is no ordinary relapse, but something much more sinister.
Little Fish by Mattson Tomlin (7 Votes)
A couple fights to hold their relationship together as a memory loss virus spreads and threatens to erase the history of their love and courtship.
Nobody Nothing Nowhere by Alex Fischer and Rachel Wolther (7 Votes)
Ruth is one of the non-people: human-looking beings designed and trained for the sole purpose of filling in a realistic world for a bland guy named Dave, the only person to actually exist on Earth. Tired of serving as an extra in someone else’s life, she has the audacity to demand a life of her own.
Ride by Krystin Ver Linden (7 Votes)
The story of NASA’s least likely female candidate, Sally Ride, as she becomes America’s most likely hero as the first American woman in space.
The full list of unproduced screenplays is available in this .PDF file.