Adam Volk is a wannabe screenwriter trying desperately to break into the industry and cram his hack drivel down Hollywood’s gaping maw. Each week he examines one aspect from the wonderfully demented world of screenwriting.
Two years ago — or so the story goes — a young executive at Leonardo DiCaprio’s production company Appian Way, decided to forgo giving Leo his daily frappuccino enema and instead emailed a large number of Hollywood executives asking them to send him a list of their 10 favorite unproduced screenplays of that year. The list soon started circulated through the ranks of L.A.’s movers and shakers eventually making the jump from insider obscurity to becoming a fledgling Hollywood tradition. Since then the Black List has grown in size and prominence (this year over 250 studio schmoozers were asked to pick the best of the best). In true Hollywood fashion of course, the list has also become a glorified pissing contest between studios and talent agencies hoping to make a name for themselves.
For industry outsiders however, the Black List is also a chance to get a sneak peak at some of the hottest scripts most people have probably never heard of. It’s also a chance to see some of the many films which are likely to be serious box office and critical contenders (the 2007 Black List for example, featured the scripts for The Wrestler, Valkyrie and Slumdog Millionaire, and that’s before the films were in the very earliest stages of production).
So without further adieu let’s take a look at this year’s Black List, starting off with the Top 10:
1. THE BEAVER by Kyle Killen
The Plot: When a depressed toy manufacturer named Walter Black loses his family and his business he tries on a hand puppetâ€”a chatty British rodent called “The Beaver”. Walter’s personality is soon transformed and eventually The Beaver begins to take over Walter’s personality completely. The script has been described as a quirky, dark comedy and a cross between “Liar Liar” and the cult horror movie “Magic”. Currently Steve Carell has signed on to play the lead.
2. THE ORANGES by Jay Reiss and Ian Helfer
The Plot: Two New Jersey families are thrown into comic turmoil when their estranged daughter returns for Christmas and falls in love with her parents’ best friend. The script is being described as a cross between “The Graduate” and “Meet the Parents” and while the film hasn’t been cast yet it’s being helmed by Anthony Bregman (who recently produced Charlie Kaufman’s “Synecdoche, New York”) and “Entourage” director Julian Farino.
3. BUTTER by Jason Micallef
The Plot: An African-American foster child named Destiny, faces off against Iowa’s reigning dairy diva – the beautiful but venal Laura Pickler – in an epic butter-carving competition. The feel-good comedy has been compared to quirky films like “Election” and “Best in Show” and DreamWorks has begun early negotiations for the project with Jennifer Garner in talks to play one of the leads.
4. BIG HOLE by Michael Gilio
The Plot: An aging and surly ex-cowboy named Lee, loses $30,000 to a fraudulent sweepstakes company and sets out to gain vengeance on those responsible. Lee’s son, the local sheriff, is soon charged with stopping him and a cat and mouse game between father and son begins. The film is already being compared to “Falling Down” and “No Country for Old Men” and the project has been picked up Aversano Films.
5. THE LOW DWELLER by Brad Ingelsby
The Plot: Charlie “Slim” Hendrick, a hard-ass ex-convict, returns home to find that his girlfriend has moved on and his dead beat brother has accrued a sizable gambling debt. When a disfigured, dog-loving thug beats his brother to death, Slim finds himself thrown back in a world of violence and revenge. The script is described as a modern “Unforgiven” and Tony and Ridley Scott will co-produce.
6. F***BUDDIES by Liz Meriwether
The Plot: While having the greatest movie title since “Young People Fucking” the plot follows the exploits of Emma and Adam, two best friends in their early twenties who are (as the title suggests) the ultimate fuck buddies. Their no-strings-attached arrangement turns south however, when Adam falls in love with Emma. The film has been compared to “Zack and Miri Make a Porno” and “Harry Met Sally” and is currently in development by Ivan Reitman.
7. WINTER’S DISCONTENT by Paul Fruchbom
The Plot: When 75 year old geezer Herb Winter becomes a widower after 50 years of marriage he decides to make up for lost time by nailing every willing and able woman he can find. He soon moves into a retirement community and attempts to start a new life as an elderly swinging single. Viagra jokes ensue. The script has been picked up by Sony Pictures, although as of yet no director or cast has been brought on board.
8. BROKEN CITY by Brian Tucker
The Plot: Ex-cop turned private investigator Billy Taggart, finds himself in a world of trouble after he is hired to find out if the Mayor of New York’s wife is having an affair. His investigation soon uncovers a relationship between the mayor’s wife and the campaign manager of a corrupt mayoral candidate who wins up dead. Taggart must then stay one step ahead of the law in an attempt to expose corruption and conspiracy. The film is being developed by Mandate Pictures and John Malkovich’s production company Mr. Mudd (both of whom previously collaborated together to produce “Juno”).
9. I’M WITH CANCER by Will Reiser
The Plot: Based on screenwriter Will Reiser’s real-life battle with cancer, in this unlikely comedy, a 25-year-old single Jewish guy named Adam is diagnosed with spinal cancer and decides to use humor as a way of dealing with his rapidly imploding life. The project is being helmed by Mandate Pictures and Seth Rogen has signed on to play Adam’s best friend in addition to working as a producer on the film.
10. OUR BRAND IS CRISIS by Peter Straughan
The Plot: An elite team of American political operatives are ordered to Bolivia to help manipulate the presidential election while facing of violence and social upheaval in the explosive Latin American nation. The film is loosely based on a 2006 documentary of the same name and George Clooney will be producing the project.
Other top picks after the jump:
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