This year’s Black List, a ranking of hot screenplays that have not yet finished principal photography, honors scripts about the NFL draft, the early life of Dr. Seuss, and a 40-year search for three siblings taken from an Australian beach.
The list is compiled by former production executive Franklin Leonard, who said more than 290 film executives contributed their 10 favorite scripts of the year. To be eligible for inclusion in the list, the scripts had to receive at least six mentions from inside the Hollywood development community.
In previous years, scripts from Quentin Tarantino and Aaron Sorkin have topped the list. This year’s top 10 doesn’t include such well-known names.
“Draft Day,” from writers Rajiv Joseph and Scott Rothman, landed in the top spot this year with 65 votes. The duo’s script takes place on the day of the NFL draft, when Buffalo Bills General Manager Sonny Weaver has the opportunity to save football in his town when he trades for the No. 1 pick. The script has been optioned by Montecito Pictures and Paramount Pictures.
Second place was a tie, with Sean Armstrong’s “A Country of Strangers” and Eyal Podell and Jonathan Stewart’s “Seuss” each earning 43 mentions.
Based on true events, Armstrong’s story centers on an inspector’s 40-year seach for the Beaumont children, three siblings taken from an Australian beach in 1966. “Seuss” chronicles the early days of Ted Geisel’s career and the inspiration his future wife, Helen, provided for him in creating his first hit, “The Cat in the Hat.”
Fourth place went to Young Il Kim’s script “Rodham,” which received 39 votes. The script centers on the early years of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s career, when as the youngest lawyer chosen for the House Judiciary Committee working on the impeachment of Richard Nixon, she faced a choice between her budding political career and her unresolved feelings for Bill Clinton, who was teaching law in Arkansas. Temple Hill Entertainment has optioned the property.
Rounding out the top 10:
“Story of Your Life” by Eric Heisserer (35 votes)
Based on a short story by Ted Chiang. When alien crafts land around the world, a linguistics expert is recruited by the military to determine whether they come in peace or are a threat. As she learns to communicate with the aliens, she begins experiencing vivid flashbacks that become the key to unlocking the greater mystery about the true purpose of their visit. Optioned by Shawn Levy’s 21 Laps Entertainment and Film Nation.
"Wunderkind” by Patrick Aison (33 votes)
A man employed by Mossad and his son, a CIA agent, team up to hunt an escaped Nazi. Optioned by J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot and Paramount Pictures.
“Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile” by Michael Werwie (31 votes)
Based on a true story, a promising young law student fights an oppressive legal system and growing public scrutiny when his routine traffic stop snowballs into shocking criminal charges, imprisonment, daring escapes, and ultimately acting as his own attorney in a nationally televised murder trial. Optioned by producer Michael Costigan.
"Me & Earl & the Dying Girl” by Jesse Andrews (29 votes)
Based on Andrews’ novel of the same name, a quirky high school student who enjoys making films sparks a friendship with a classmate dying of leukemia. Optioned by Indian Paintbrush.
“Glimmer” by Carter Blanchard (29 votes)
When three friends go missing on a camping trip in a forest rumored to be haunted, the two left behind discover clues that lead them to a safe deposit box containing video tapes... showing exactly what happened to their friends. Optioned by Dreamworks and Madhouse Entertainment.
“Devils at Play” by James Dilapo (28 votes)
In the Soviet Union in 1937, a worker of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs finds a list of traitors, which he thinks is going to be his way out.
For the full list, head to the Black List website here.