Franklin Leonard and Dino Simone have released this year’s Black List, a ranking of the most-liked (not necessarily best) unproduced screenplays compiled from the votes of over 250 film executives. More than 300 Black List scripts have been greenlit, including Oscar winners like The Revenant, Spotlight, Slumdog Millionaire, Juno, The King’s Speech, and Argo. Some are currently in development, like Mindy Kaling‘s script about a talk show host played by Emma Thompson.
On 2016’s list, the most-liked script by far (with 48 votes) was a biopic about Madonna, hence the banner picture. But we’re going to focus on sci-fi and supernatural scripts again this year, which is partly my own bias and partly because those are often greenlit, recent examples being Passengers, Looper, Chronicle, and Transcendence.
One writer, Mike Makowsky, made the list twice this year, which is a rare achievement.
Several patterns emerged, including the old pattern of two scripts about the same subject making the list. Prior years had competing scripts about the making of The Godfather, the making of Jaws, and Mr. Rogers biopics. This year’s list includes two different biopics about Stephen King. It was a biopic-heavy year, all around. This year’s list included biopics about Donald Trump, Boudica, inventor Marvin Glass, Revolutionary War soldier Deborah Sampson, Dutch assassin Johanna “Hannie” Schaft, Eric Clapton/George Harrison/Pattie Boyd, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi (sculptor of the Statue of Liberty), Monica Lewinsky/Linda Tripp, Katharine Graham/Ben Bradlee, fashion designer Alexander McQueen, Rosemary Kennedy, Carl Sagan/Ann Druyan, Thomas Edison/George Westinghouse, experimental aircraft test pilot David Steeves, sailor Tami Ashcraft, and the already-in-development Tonya Harding biopic starring Margot Robbie.
Another more upsetting pattern was the dozen or so scripts about corruption which made the list. It is, after all, an election year. Black List founder Franklin Leonard told The Wrap, “There are many true stories about systematic corruption. From the DEA to a church accountant to a local school, and that’s pretty prevalent in our times.”
At least the sci-fi entries were more numerous and interesting than last year’s disappointing fare. Here are the fourteen sci-fi and supernatural Black List 2016 screenplays: