This year's Black List ranking of hot screenplays features a colorful mix of projects -- about the 18th century Russian ruler Catherine the Great, the O.J. Simpson murder trial and a nerdy high-schooler who fancies himself an amateur photographer.
Kristina Lauren Anderson's "Catherine the Great," about the life, marriage and kingdom of the woman born Sophia Augusta Fredericka, nabbed the top spot with 51 mentions from those polled. The project is set up at Atlas Entertainment.
Coming in at second place with 38 mentions was Adam Morrison's "Rockingham," a look at the hysteria surrounding the murder case dubbed "the trial of the century," as seen through the eyes of Simpson's sports agent, Mike Gilbert, and LAPD Det. Mark Fuhrman.
The Black List, an industry-voted grouping of popular scripts that have yet to complete principal photography, is compiled by former development executive Franklin Leonard with input from more than 250 film executives. Each of them contribute up to 10 of their favorite scripts of the year.
Rounding out the top five this year were Randall Green's "The Swimsuit Issue," about a teenager who attempts to compete with his high school's yearbook (35 mentions); Brian Duffield's "The Babysitter," about a 12-year-old who falls for his sitter and learns some hard truths (34); and John Patton Ford's "Rothchild," about a young loner who begins killing off the members of his mother's estranged family in hopes of inheriting a vast fortune (32).
Among the projects on the list that have been set up with studios, financiers or production companies are Kieran Fitzgerald's "The Cascade" at Fox; Alan DiFiore, Jim Kouf and Jamie Linden's "Money Monster" at TriStar; and Dwain Worrell's "The Wall" at Amazon Studios.
Now marking its 10th year, the Black List has become something of a Hollywood institution, as industry members vote for material they like (or would like to see made) and monitor the list closely for news about clients and friends.
Since it serves as a seal of approval of sorts, the list can help a project attract further attention and spur a move forward in development. Three of the past Oscar best picture winners were Black List scripts: "Argo," "The King's Speech" and "Slumdog Millionaire."
But for every success, there's also a misfire (like "The Beaver" and "Seven Pounds") or an eccentricity that wins over the hearts of Hollywood types but is either too strange or faces too many obstacles to get made (like the 2009 winner "Muppet Man").
The full 2014 Black List is available here.
Follow @ogettell for movie news