No, it's not an attack on actors/writers/directors sympathetic to communism (strange though that this thing is named after that particularly depressing time) it's a list of the best unproduced scripts making the rounds in Hollywood. Entertainment Weekly has done a bit of a writeup on it, speaking with it's creator, Franklin Leonard (an exec at Universal) as well as spilling the beans on the top 10 on the list. (For a look at the complete Black List, go here. Thanks Deadline Hollywood Daily)
Now, apparently this list in years' past has spawned popular movies such as Juno and Lars and the Real Girl, and after one look at this year's list, I can at least see that the subject matter matches those two movies. But honestly, I really thought the top 10 was a joke played on us by Entertainment Weekly.
More about the Black List on the flip side...
Honestly, I have a chain of emails I saved from about 10 years ago archiving some goofy television spec ideas my friends and I shot back and forth, bored one day at work. And some of them match the lunacy of this year's Black List. So much so that I might dig them up, put a little polish on them and see what happens. Because if you told me these were the best of the crop in Hollywood before I saw it in major publications, I would never believe it.
It's hard for a non-Hollywood guy like me to believe these are the best scripts out there. Some seem to weird for weird's sake. And some seem to simply take a winning formula and put a twist on it, and some seem like
Now, I of course haven't read any of them. If someone wanted to send them to me or point me in a direction, I'd happily read them and offer my opinion. I'm not holding my breath though. So even the ones that sound like retreads, may be fantastically executed in the writing. I can't answer that.
I will also say Entertainment Weekly does no favors to anyone with their write ups. Would it kill them to give a little more depth to the summaries? I've heard more description on a numbers station broadcast. I've decided to do a little more research (read: google the script names) and see what I can come up with.
But enough - let's take a look at the top 10 scripts in Hollywood right now...
10. Our Brand is Hope (Peter Straughan)
About: A presidential candidate in Bolivia, losing badly in the polls, hires James Carville's consulting firm in hopes to turn his fortunes around. Carville's group "Americanizes" the campaign, and things go downhill from there.
Here's a much better summary of it. Based on true events, it's hard to label it as a spoiler, but if you want to go in clean, you might not want to head there. It also looks like it might be in some sort of pre-production state, which, to me, might mean it shouldn't be on the list.
9. I'm with Cancer (Will Reiser)
About: This looks to be an autobiographical tale about Reiser's bout with cancer. Seth Rogen's involvement suggests it will be at least a little humorous. I got that information here. I'm assuming this will be a lot like the 40 Year Old Virgin. Though it's hard to think how much more humor can be mined from cancer after Tom Green already wrote the book on it. Or shot the video if you want to get technical.
8. Broken City (Brian Tucker)
About: Not a lot of detail on this one. A PI is hired to find out if the mayor's wife is having an affair. She is. Looks like the movie will be embroiled in the world of New York politics.
7. Winter's Discontent (Paul Fruchbom)
About: An older gentleman's wife dies after 50 years of marriage, so now the guy wants to sow his oats and get some sexing in before he dies. It also looks like he convinces his best friend to move into a retirement community with him.
A funny About Schmidt mixed with the Bucket List and [insert teen comedy here]? Not sure what the target audience for something like this is. Old people swearing is a staple of comedies, but that's in a small does - a whole movie might get a little tiring.
6. F*** Buddies (Liz Meriwether)
About: Buddies that fuck until the guy wants to move it to the next level. Hmm. This is probably about 10 years too late to take advantage of the whole "friends with benefits" that too the world by storm. Kate Hudson/Matthew McConaughey vehicle?
5. The Low Dweller (Brad Ingelsby)
About: Revenge. I guess. Ex-cons, current cons, lost loves...it seems so cliche, but others suggest it's good. So I won't argue, I'll simply link to it.
4. Big Hole (Michael Gillio)
About: Not a lot of information to be found on this one, though it might be the commonality of the name. Man gets scammed and decides to do something about it; man's son is the sheriff out to stop him. I agree with EW, which suggests it sounds a bit like Falling Down.
3. Butter (Jason Micallef)
About: Again, not a lot of information on it. Set in the world of competitive butter carving (I didn't make that up) a young, promising up and comer takes on the hardened professional.
2. The Oranges (Jay Reiss and Ian Helfer)
About: Other than what EW has, I couldn't find much. Though what they have, parents' grown daughter comes home and falls in love with the parents' best friend, sounds ludicrous.
1. The Beaver (Kyle Killen)
About: A depressed guy gets a personality change when he dons a puppet beaver. It sounds like a 4th grader's bad entry into a writing contest, but NY Magazine took a look at the script and loves it. So who am I to judge?
So there you have it. A weird list with recycled ideas, original ideas and truly bizarre ideas. Will any of them work? If I knew that, I'd be a studio exec.
1. The Beaver