Screenwriters are architects, researchers, and storytellers. They write scripts that recount the lives of influential people such as Tonya in I, Tonya (2017), or build a new world revolving around characters with problems that viewers could relate to. A few of those ideas land a place on “The Black List.”
Franklin Leonard started The Black List in 2005, where over 200 film executives review and determine their favorite scripts of movies that are yet to be produced. Only a selected number of scripts outshine the competition, and some films are produced years later than when they were written, and even win distinguished awards.
Eight Below (2006) — 2005 Black List
Jerry Shepard (Paul Walker) with David McClaren (Bruce Greenwood) along with their resilient team of sled dogs go on an expedition in Antarctica. During their expedition, an unexpected emergency caused Jerry to abandon the sled dogs. His decision combined with the extreme weather conditions in Antarctica impacted the chances of not being able to see the dogs ever again.
David DiGilio wrote the screenplay for the film Eight Below (2006) and appeared on the 2005 Black List. The film was entered under the name Antarctica based on the Japanese 1983 film Antarctica written by Tatsuo Nogami, Susumu Saji, and Eiji Okada. 73% of critics and 79% of audiences rated Eight Below 3.5 or higher on Rotten Tomatoes. Eight Below is available on Disney+.
The Hunger Games (2012) — 2010 Black List
Testing strength, endurance, knowledge, and skills against other participants are what typical game shows or game competition shows rely on. Similarly, the competition in The Hunger Games (2012) tested the participants’ survival skills as they were placed in an arena where their environment could change at any minute. However, in most competition shows, the last contestant wins the prize, but in The Hunger Games, the last contestant is the only one who survived the competition altogether.
The Hunger Games movies were based on the books written by Suzanne Collins. The screenplay for the movie was written by Collins, Gary Ross, and Billy Ray and appeared on the 2010 Black List. 84% of critics and 81% of audiences rated The Hunger Games 3.5 or higher on Rotten Tomatoes. The Hunger Games is available on the Roku Channel.
Life of Pi (2012) — 2006 Black List
Older Pi Patel (Irrfan Khan) reminisces the moment when he found the meaning of life and survival. As a young man, he boarded a cargo ship with zoo animals that headed for Canada. During a disastrous storm, the cargo ship capsized and Pi Patel (Suraj Sharma) found a boat with a Bengal tiger. As they are drifting on the Pacific Ocean, Pi and the tiger slowly accept each other’s presence.
Yann Martel wrote the novel Life of Pi (2012), and the film appeared on the 2006 Black List. 86% of critics and 84% of audiences rated Life of Pi 3.5 or higher on Rotten Tomatoes. Life of Pi included visual effects to create natural realistic animals. The film is available on Hulu.
Django Unchained (2012) — 2011 Black List
Among Quentin Tarantino‘s best movies was the western revenge movie Django Unchained (2012). Jamie Foxx portrayed Django, as a freed slave searching for his wife. Dr. King Shultz (Christoph Waltz) agreed to help Django after Django helped him find his men. Once they realize that Django’s wife was on a plantation in Mississippi, they devised a plan to free her.
Tarantino directed and wrote the screenplay for the film Django Unchained, and it appeared on the 2011 Black List. 86% of critics and 92% of audiences rated Django Unchained a 3.5 or higher on Rotten Tomatoes. Django Unchained is available on Netflix and Paramount+.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (2022) — 2019 Black List
Nicolas Cage (as himself) and Pedro Pascal (as Javi Gutierrez) had their share of bromantic moments in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. In the film, Cage’s fictionalized version of himself has hit a low point in his acting career. When Javi, a millionaire, and a die-hard Cage fan, offers one million dollars for Cage to attend a birthday party, he reluctantly accepts the offer.
Tom Gormican and Kevin Etten wrote the script for the movie, and it appeared on the 2019 Black List. 87% of critics and 87% of audiences rated The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent a 3.5 or higher on Rotten Tomatoes. Those eager to see Cage in an action-comedy still have a chance to catch The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent in select theaters.
I, Tonya (2017) — 2016 Black List
From a young age, Tonya (Margot Robbie) strived to excel in figure skating, whereas her mother expected her to dedicate all her effort to the sport. Tonya won figure skating competitions and master the triple axle in a competition. However, her impeccable routines weren’t what the public remembered her by.
I, Tonya (2017) described Tonya’s rise to fame and how her plot to eliminate a rival ruined her reputation. Steven Rogers wrote the script for I, Tonya, and it appeared on the 2016 Black List. 90% of critics and 88% of audiences rated I, Tonya a 3.5 or higher on Rotten Tomatoes. The biographical film I, Tonya is available on Hulu.
Slumdog Millionaire (2008) — 2007 Black List
The structural framework of films usually follows a linear narrative where the main protagonist is introduced followed by their goal or problem they need to solve, then offer a solution to the problem, and then concludes the film. Slumdog Millionaire (2008) followed a nonlinear narrative where Jamal (Dev Patel), raised in the slums of India, made his way to the television program, Who Wants To Be a Millionaire? He relied on his prior life experiences to help him answer questions on the game show.
Simon Beaufoy wrote the screenplay for the film, and it appeared on the 2007 Black List. Slumdog Millionaire won an Oscar in eight categories including Best Motion Picture of the Year in 2009. According to Rotten Tomatoes, 91% of critics and 90% of audiences rated Slumdog Millionaire 3.5 or higher. Slumdog Millionaire is available on Roku Channel.
The Half of It (2020) — 2018 Black List
Paul Munsky (Daniel Diemer) had trouble articulating his feelings to his crush. Ellie Chu (Leah Lewis) had a way with words, and other classmates came to her when they needed an essay written for a class. Paul asked Ellie to write letters to his crush in his name. As Ellie helped Paul explain his feelings, she began developing feelings for his crush.
Not only was The Half of It (2020) a teen romance film, it showed a friendship evolving between two people who might have had nothing in common before meeting each other. The script was written by Alice Wu and appeared on the 2018 Black List. 97% of critics and 81% of audiences rated The Half of It 3.5 or higher on Rotten Tomatoes. The Half of It is available on Netflix.
Spotlight (2015) — 2013 Black List
Spotlight (2015) depicted the events of the Boston Globe journalists that investigated child abuse claims against a Catholic Church. As they interviewed multiple sources, they uncovered that these abuses weren’t specified to one particular church that deliberately hid their abuse from the public. This scandal spanned multiple Catholic Churches.
Spotlight, written by Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy, gave an inside look at the significant role journalists have in society. These journalists encountered challenges in publishing their findings since these findings exposed the harsh truth about a once-respected institution. 97% of critics and 93% of audiences rated Spotlight a 3.5 or higher on Rotten Tomatoes. Spotlight appeared on the 2013 Black List and is available on YouTube.
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