'Draft Day' Tops the 2012 Black List of Best Unproduced Screenplays
by Ben Pearson
December 17, 2012
If you've been following news about the industry for the past few years, you're likely already familiar with The Black List. Founded by Film executive Franklin Leonard in 2005, the yearly list consists of the "most liked" screenplays floating around Hollywood, as voted on by development executives. Scripts had to receive at least six mentions to be considered for inclusion this year, and now the list has gone live at their official website with Ivan Reitman's Draft Day (which was recently delayed by Paramount) coming in on top. We've posted the top 20 entries below, including the logline of each movie and the writers behind them.
1. Draft Day (65)
By Rajiv Joseph, Scott Rothman
What it's about: On the day of the NFL Draft, Bills General Manager Sonny Weaver has the opportunity to save football in Buffalo when he trades for the number one pick. He must quickly decide what he’s willing to sacrifice in pursuit of perfection as the lines between his personal and professional life become blurred.
Agency: Gersh, CAA
Producer: Montecito Pictures
2. A Country of Strangers (43)
By Sean Armstrong
What it's about: Based on true events. Inspector Geoff Harper conducts a forty year search for the Beaumont Children, three siblings taken from an Australian beach in January of 1966.
2. Seuss (43)
By Eyal Podell, Jonathan Stewart
What it's about: As a young man, Ted Geisel meets his future wife Helen, who encourages his fanciful drawings, and in the 1950s when Ted is struggling professionally, Helen helps inspire the children’s book that will become his first big hit, “The Cat in the Hat.”
3. Rodham (39)
By Young Il Kim
What it's about: During the height of the Watergate scandal, rising star Hillary Rodham is the youngest lawyer chosen for the House Judiciary Committee to Impeach Nixon, but she soon finds herself forced to choose between a destined path to the White House and her unresolved feelings for Bill Clinton, her former boyfriend who now teaches law in Arkansas.
Producer: The Arlook Group, Temple Hill Entertainment
4. Story of Your Life (35)
By Eric Heisserer
What it's about: Based on the 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.
Producer: Film Nation, Lava Bear, 21 Laps Entertainment
5. Wunderkind (33)
By Patrick Aison
What it's about: A Mossad employed father and his CIA agent son team up to hunt an escaped Nazi.
Producer: Bad Robot, DMG Entertainment
6. Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile (31)
By Michael Werwie
What it's about: Based on a true (and ultimately surprising) 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.
Producer: Michael Costigan
7. Glimmer (29)
By Carter Blanchard
What it's about: 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.
Producer: Madhouse Entertainment
7. Me & Earl & The Dying Girl (29)
By Jesse Andrews
What it's about: Based on Andrews’s eponymous novel, a quirky high school student who enjoys making films sparks a friendship with a classmate dying of leukemia.
Producer: Indian Paintbrush
8. Devils at Play (28)
By James Dilapo
What it's about: 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.
9. Sweet Virginia (26)
By Paul China, Benjamin China
What it's about: A former rodeo star unknowingly starts a rapport with a young man who is responsible for all of the violence that has suddenly gripped his small town.
10. Fathers and Daughters (25)
By Brad Desch
What it's about: A woman recalls her close relationship with her famous novelist father while struggling to overcome her fear of emotional involvement with her first real boyfriend.
Producer: Busted Shark
11. Shut In (23)
By Christina Hodson
What it's about: A woman who tries to raise her catatonic son on her own suddenly discovers a shocking secret about him.
Producer: Lava Bear Films
12. The Keeping Room (22)
By Julia Hart
What it's about: Three southern women defend their home from the Union army while their husbands are off fighting in the Civil War.
Producer: Gilbert Films, Wind Dancer Films, Anonymous Content
13. If They Move…Kill 'Em! (21)
By Kel Symons
What it's about: After losing his luster and respect in Hollywood, famed director Sam Peckinpah hopes to direct his next great film with financial backing from Colombian drug lords and brings along a novice screenwriter to write the film in Colombia.
14. Americatown (20)
By Ben Poole
What it's about: In a China-dominated near future, a former LAPD officer attempts to save his family from destitution in Los Angeles by working for a crime lord in the American ghetto within a thriving Hong Kong.
Producer: Sean Finegan
14. Sand Castle (20)
By Chris Roessner
What it's about: Based on a true story, a group of United States soldiers in Iraq risk their lives to save a local village.
Producer: The Mark Gordon Company
14. The Judge (20)
By Bill Dubuque
What it's about: A successful attorney returns to his hometown for his mother’s funeral only to discover that his Alzheimer’s-stricken father is suspected of murder and must represent him in court. The ordeal becomes an emotional journey that makes him a better man.
Producer: Bid Kid Pictures, Team Downey
15. Clive (19)
By Natasha Pincus
What it's about: After an accident causes a successful CEO to lose both legs, he is forced to re-evaluate his life and identity.
15. Comancheria (19)
By Taylor Sheridan
What it's about: Two brothers, one an ex-con and the other a divorced father of two kids, face the foreclosure of their family’s West Texas farm. They team for a skillfully-calculated bank robbing spree that puts them on a collision course with two Texas Rangers determined to take them down.
Producer: Film 44, Sidney Kimmel Entertainment
15. Flower (19)
By Alex McAulay
What it's about: A coming of age story about the unlikely bond that forms between a sexually adventurous teenage girl and her obese, mentally unstable step-brother.
15. Whalemen (19)
By Tucker Parsons
What it's about: The leader of a fourteenth century Scottish whaling village must seek out and do battle with a whale many times larger than any he has ever seen in order to ransom back his son from the occupying English.
15. Whiplash (19)
By Damien Chazelle
What it's about: Based on the eponymous short film written and directed by Chazelle. Under the director of a prestigious but borderline abusive instructor, a young college student begins to lose his humanity in his quest to become the core drummer of the top jazz orchestra in the country.
Producer: Right of Way Films, Blumhouse
16. George (18)
By Jeff Shakoor
What it's about: When an acerbic alcoholic finds himself penniless and alone he has no choice but to crash his family’s holiday. Years of alienating them makes for a stiff challenge, but eventually he subtly helps them heal.
Producer: Anonymous Content
17. The Fault in Our Stars (17)
By Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber
What it's about: Based on the eponymous novel by John Green, a teenage girl stricken with cancer falls for a boy in her support group and the two form a bond as they deal with their illnesses.
Producer: Temple Hill Entertainment
17. The One That Got Away (17)
By April Prosser
What it's about: A twenty eight year old woman is about to get engaged to her great boyfriend, when the ex she hasn’t gotten over moves back into town. All of a sudden she isn’t sure if her boyfriend is really the one, and so she spends time decorating her ex’s new condo, trying to figure it all out.
18. The Ballad of Pablo Escobar (16)
By Matt Aldrich
What it's about: After his family is almost killed in a car bombing, Pablo Escobar wages a war with a rival cartel and his own government in an effort to protect his family.
Producer: Stone Village Productions (Brad Furman directing)
18. The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (16)
By Mark Hogan
What it's about: During WWII, a a fifteen year old German boy is sent to America to spy for the Fatherland by joining a politically-connected family as an English war orphan. Tension mounts when the boy gets the chance to assassinate President Roosevelt..
Producer: Michael Costigan
18. Man of Tomorrow (16)
By Jeremy Slater
What it's about: In an alternate 1940s reality, the US Government makes a deal with an indestructible gangster to kill Hilter in exchange for the city of Chicago, which he will build into his own utopia. Unfortunately his model city never comes to fruition and both he and his Bureau liaison get much of the slack for destroying one of America’s greatest cities and now the government wants him dead.
Producer: Thunder Road Pictures
19. El Tigre (15)
By Aaron Buchsbaum, Teddy Riley
What it's about: A family vacation goes horribly awry when the father is mistaken for the most ruthless drug lord in Mexico, El Tigre.
19. Murder City (15)
By Will Simmons
What it's about: An ensemble crime story set in Detroit about an ex-con who goes back for one last heist in order to settle his family’s debt.
20. The Final Broadcast (14)
By Chris Hutton, Eddie O’Keefe
What it's about: A man takes a job as a radio broadcaster in a small town, only to discover that it is embedded with a radical group planning mass destruction in conjunction with an upcoming lunar eclipse.
Personally, I'm hoping that Americatown gets made, because it sounds like an excellent piece of sci-fi with some interesting cultural commentary attached. El Tigre could be a great comedic vehicle for somebody like Ed Helms, and The One That Got Away might be a good fit for someone like Ari Graynor, who was a shining star in this year's For A Good Time, Call from Sundance. Which ones sound promising to you guys? Sound off in the comments below, and be sure to visit the Black List's official website for this year's complete list.