Created to highlight the screenplays being ignored by studios preoccupied with break dancing robots, The Black List has become just another way for producers to chum the industry waters while congratulating themselves on how innovative and forward-thinking they are. But The Black List has always been an unapologetically Hollywood creation, one that refers to itself as a “most liked” list rather than a “best of” list. The annual list of unproduced screenplays (as opposed to un-bought screenplays) has been released every year since 2004, and has spawned films from That’s My Boy to The Social Network.
Still, a “Black List script” is often cited as a shorthand for quality, and this year’s winner, a Catherine The Great biopic called, appropriately enough, Catherine The Great, will undoubtedly be promoted as such. So will the other 69 titles on the list, which includes both I Am Ryan Reynolds, a presumably satirical “inside look at the marriage, career, and mental state of 2010’s Sexiest Man Alive,” and Wonka, a presumably earnest “dark reimagining of the Willy Wonka story beginning in World War II and culminating with his takeover of the chocolate factory.”
Other top picks include Rockingham, a look at the O.J. Simpson trial through the eyes of Simpson’s agent and LAPD detective Mark Fuhrman (remember him?), and The Swimsuit Issue, about a nerdy teenager who tries to convince his classmates to pose for a “Swimsuit Issue” to raise money for summer camp. A full list, at least one of which will be eerily similar to a screenplay idea you had but never got around to writing down (sorry, but this does mean it’s too late), is available on The Black List website.