You want female assassins with less than 24 hours to do their job? We’ve got female assassins with less than 24 hours to do their job! We’ve also got World War 2 stories. Terminally ill characters. A dozen true stories based on [insert famous person’s name here]. And let’s not forget a big bag of political scripts (equally balanced between left and right leaning, of course). That’s right, your 2017 Black List has arrived!
First thoughts? I’d say that Ruin (review here) is a worthy number 1 script, though I personally would’ve gone with Keeper of the Diary (review here). I’m pumped as all hell that Logan made the list with Meat (review here). Not just because his script deserves it, but because something unique actually made it onto a list that doesn’t celebrate “unique” the way it used to.
As for the scripts that have gotten me excited to read. “Hughes” sounds good. I’ve always wondered exactly that – why Hughes disappeared. Every article on him assumes the reason, but no one’s come out with anything definitive. I want to know the truth! Even if I can’t handle it.
“Valedictorian” has my interest. I’m a sucker for black humor high school stuff, like Election. This sounds like it’s up the same alley. I wouldn’t normally be interested in a true story about a blind musician, but “Key of Genius” made the list with no manager or agent! That’s hard to do! So the script must have something going for it.
“Gadabout” sounds weird and interesting, one of the few truly original sounding scripts on the list. Definitely want to check that out. Star Wars script “Strongman” is one I’ll open up for sure. I haaaaated that script “Chewie” from a few years ago on the Black List. It was the most copy-and-paste-events script I’ve ever read. But David Prowse, the guy behind Darth Vader, is supposed to have a notorious feud going with George Lucas that’s lasted 30 years. And he has good reason. Imagine you shoot an entire movie only to find out once you get to the premiere that they replaced your voice. Oh, and THAT CHARACTER GOES ON TO BECOME THE BEST VILLAIN OF ALL TIME. Yeah, I’d be pissed too.
Bios, about a guy who creates a robot to look after his dog sounds like a tear-jerker with an angle. Obviously influenced by The Dog Stars. And the biopic about the Dating Game serial killer is probably as fertile as you can get with serial killer subject matter. I’ll check that out. I like the idea behind cab-flick “Daddio.” It’s such a movie-specific idea. And very old-school spec-like. I’ll read that. Oh, and “Where I End” gets the highest concept on the list award. So you gotta give that a shot.
The JK Rowling script is probably worth a read if only because it’s the best writing-related rags-to-riches story in history. Might come in handy if you’re struggling to stay motivated on that rewrite. And, of course, there will be surprises, stuff that looks boring but turns out to be amazing. Like this one from two years ago.
Finally, we have some odd connections. There are two scripts covering subject matter that was seen here on Amateur Friday by other writers. One is covering that Jewish filmmaker who made the Nazi propaganda film (Wyler) and the other covering the origin story of Curious George’s author (George). Goes to show you that everybody’s chasing the same stuff.
If you read any of these scripts that haven’t been reviewed on the site, share your thoughts in any of the Comments sections. Together, we should be able to suss out who the real contenders are and who has really good agents.
THE 2017 BLACK LIST
68 votes – “Ruin” by Matthew Firpo, Ryan Firpo – A nameless ex-Nazi captain must navigate the ruins of post-WWII Germany to atone for his crimes during the war by hunting down and killing the surviving members of his former SS death squad.
42 votes – “Let Her Speak” by Mario Correa – The true story of Senator Wendy Davis and her 24-hour filibuster to save 75% of abortion clinics in Texas.
40 votes – “Daddio” by Christy Hall – A passenger and her cab driver reminisce about their relationships on the way from the airport to her apartment in New York.
32 votes – “Keeper of The Diary” by Samuel Franco & Evan Kilgore – Chronicles Otto Frank’s journey, with the help of a junior editor at Doubleday Press, to find a publisher for the diary his daughter Anne wrote during the Holocaust.
22 votes – “Where I End” by Imran Zaidi – In a world where your life can be saved, uploaded to a computer, and restarted in the case of your untimely demise, a husband returns from the dead, suspecting his wife may have been involved in his death.
20 votes – “When Lightning Strikes” by Anna Klaassen – The true story of 25-year-old Joanne Rowling as she weathers first loves, unexpected pregnancies, lost jobs, and depression on her journey to create Harry Potter.
19 votes – “Breaking News in Yuba County” by Amanda Idoko – After catching her husband in bed with a hooker, which causes him to die of a heart attack, Sue Bottom buries the body and takes advantage of the local celebrity status that comes from having a missing husband.
18 votes – “Sleep Well Tonight” by Freddie Skov – Behind the walls of a maximum security prison, a naive teenage inmate and a rookie correctional officer are forced into a drug- smuggling operation, while a looming conflict between rival gang members threatens to boil over.
17 votes – “The Great Nothing” by Cesar Vitale – A grieving thirteen-year-old girl hires a terminally ill, acerbic philosophy professor to prevent flunking the seventh grade. What begins as a homework assignment blossoms into an unlikely friendship and a new appreciation for life that neither will forget.
16 votes – “Trapline” by Brett Treacy & Dan Woodward – A captive boy’s lifestyle is upended when his abductor asks for his help kidnapping a second child.
16 votes – “When In Doubt, Seduce” by Allie Hagan – The true story of the early relationship between Elaine May and Mike Nichols.
15 votes – “The Expansion Project” by Leo Sardinian – A rookie Marine gets stranded on a hostile planet during humanity’s space colonization with nothing but her exo-suit that’s running out of fusion power.
15 votes – “Newsflash” by Ben Jacoby – On November 22nd, 1963, Walter Cronkite puts everything on the line to get the story right as a president is killed, a frightened nation weeps, and television comes of age.
14 votes – “V.I.N.” by Chiara Towne – As Alex Haley struggles to write the autobiography of Malcolm X, his editor at Playboy assigns him a new interview: George Lincoln Rockwell, head of the American Nazi Party.
13 votes – “Come As You Are” by Zach Baylin – An idealistic young woman’s life begins to unravel when her job in social media exposes her to the darkest corners of humanity, sending her on a violent mission to take down not just the web’s most vicious content, but its creators as well.
13 votes – “Hughes” by Andrew Rothschild – The story of writer/director John Hughes, whose emotionally honest high school movies helped to define American culture in the 1980s–but who, at the very height of his success, abruptly abandoned filmmaking for reasons that have never been fully explained.
13 votes – “The Mother” by Misha Green – A female assassin comes out of hiding to protect the pre-teen daughter she gave up years before.
13 votes – “One Thousand Paper Cranes” by Ben Bolea – The incredible true story of Sadako Sasaki, a young girl living in Hiroshima when the atomic bomb was dropped. Years later when she gets leukemia, she hears about the legend that if someone folds one thousand paper cranes, a wish will be granted. At the same time, aspiring writer Eleanor Coerr learns of Sadako’s story and becomes determined to bring her message of hope and peace to the world.
13 votes – “Ruthless” by John Swetnam – After she is diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, a former assassin must carry out one last assignment in order to ensure her daughter’s future.
12 votes – “Jellyfish Summer” by Sarah Jane Inwards – A young black girl’s family in 1960s Mississippi decides to harbor two human-looking refugees who have mysteriously fallen from the sky.
12 votes – “Mad, Bad, And Dangerous to Know” by Jade Bartlett – Based on the book trilogy Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know by Chloe J. Esposito. An underdog identical twin accidentally kills her too-perfect sister only to discover murder suits her as she becomes compulsively embroiled in the life of a mafia assassin.
12 votes – “Valedictorian” by Cosmo Carlson – An obsessive type-A student vows to secure the valedictorian title before school ends by any means necessary, even murder.
11 votes – “Brosio” by Mattson Tomlin – Inspired by the work of artist John Brosio. When a man begins to lose all of the people close to him in a series of increasingly absurd natural disasters, he must find out why his world has been turned upside down.
11 votes – “Power” by Mattson Tomlin – When a young drug dealer is kidnapped by a man hellbent on finding his missing daughter, they must team up to get to the bottom of the mystery of the intense street drug known as Power.
10 votes – “Arc of Justice” by Max Borenstein & Rodney Barnes – Based on the book Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age written by Kevin Boyle. Chronicles the landmark civil rights trial of Dr. Ossian Sweet after he was charged with the murder of a white man.
10 votes – “Don’t Be Evil” by Gabriel Diani, Etta Devine & Evan Bates – Adapted from In the Plex by Steven Levy and I’m Feeling Lucky by Douglas Edwards. Google’s Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Eric Schmidt struggle with their corporate motto, “Don’t Be Evil,” in the face of their meteoric rise to a multi-billion dollar valuation and a major Chinese hacking incident.
10 votes – “Escape from the North Pole” by Paul Laudiero & Ben Baker – A young girl partners up with an elf, a Russian explorer and a reindeer to rescue Santa Claus from a band of evil elves and save the North Pole.
10 votes – “Fubar” by Brent Hyman – An inept CIA psychologist is embedded on a globe-trotting mission with the agency’s most valuable operative who suffers from an extreme case of multiple personality disorder.
10 votes – “Infinite” by Ian Shorr – Based on the The Reincarnationist Papers written by D. Eric Maikranz. The hallucinations of a schizophrenic are revealed to be memories from past lives where he obtained talents that he still has to this day.
10 votes – “Kate” by Umair Aleem – When a veteran hitwoman is mysteriously poisoned on her last assignment in Tokyo, she has 24 hours to track down her killer before she dies.
10 votes – “Key of Genius” by Daniel Persitz & Devon Kliger – The true story of Derek Paravicini, a blind, severely autistic boy who needed an incredible teacher to help realize his world-class musical ability.
10 votes – “Kill Shelter” by Eric Beu and Greg Martin – A darkly comic crime thriller concerning three groups of people dealing with blackmail gone wrong.
10 votes – “The Man From Tomorrow” by Jordan Barel – The true story of visionary entrepreneur Elon Musk, who after being ousted from PayPal, guides SpaceX through it turbulent early years while simultaneously building Tesla.
10 votes – “Moxie” by Heather Quinn – To combat crime in near-future Los Angeles, the FBI creates supercops based on specific genetic sequences. To their shock, their best candidate is a vulgar stripper named Moxie.
9 votes – “Ballerina” (review here) by Shay Hatten – After her family is murdered, an assassin seeks revenge on the killers.
9 votes – “Escape” by JD Payne & Patrick McKay – When a wrongly accused man is shipped to an Australian penal colony for five years, he quickly realizes his only chance of seeing his family again is to escape the prison with a gang of colors and survive the deadly terrain that awaits on the outside.
9 votes – “Gadabout” by Ross Evans – In 1951, a manufacturing company stirs up controversy when they publish a user’s manual to a time machine called Gadabout TM-1050.
9 votes – “Heart of the Beast” by Cameron Alexander – A former Navy SEAL and his retired combat dog attempt to return to civilization after a catastrophic accident deep in the Alaskan wilderness.
9 votes – “Innocent Monsters” by Elaina Perpelitt – A writer struggling to crack her second novel starts to lose her sense of reality as the book bleeds into her life…and her life bleeds back.
9 votes – “The Kingbreaker” by Andrew Bozalis & Derek Mether – A CIA operative experienced in taking down kings and installing their replacements is brought in to take down a dictator he helped install a few years prior.
9 votes – “Liberation” by Darby Kealey – The true story of Nancy Wake, the most decorated servicewoman in World War II, who led resistance fighters in a series of dangerous missions in Nazi-occupied France.
9 votes – “The Other Lamb” by Catherine McMullen – A young female coming-of-age story set within an alternative religion.
9 votes – “This is Jane” by Daniel Loflin – Based on the book The Story of Jane: The Legendary Underground Feminist Abortion Service by Laura Kaplan. An ordinary group of women provide 11,000 safe, illegal abortions in Chicago from 1968 through 1973.
9 votes – “Wyler” by Michael Moskowitz – With Hitler laying waste to Europe and the United States refusing to answer the call to war, Jewish filmmaker William Wyler risks his career to make MRS. MINIVER, the most effective propaganda film of all time.
8 votes – “The Boxer” by Justine Juel Gillmer – A young Polish man escapes from a concentration camp in which he was forced by SS agents to box other Jews, travels to America to begin a successful career as a professional boxer, and reunites with the woman he lost.
8 votes – “George” by Jeremy Michael Cohen – The true story of the Reys, the husband and wife team who fell in love, created Curious George, and escaped the horrors of WWII in Europe together.
8 votes – “Hack” by Mike Schneider – Based on actual reports, a horrifying look inside the Democratic National Committee hack and the Russian manipulation of the 2016 election.
8 votes – “Lionhunters” by Will Beall – A rogue cop suffers a gunshot wound in 1987 and wakes from a coma thirty years later, where he is partnered with a mild- mannered progressive detective – his son.
8 votes – “The Saviors” by Travis Betz & Kevin Hamedani – A seemingly progressive suburban husband and wife renting their garage through AirBnB become suspicious of their Muslim guests. As they investigate their visitors, they unwittingly trigger events that will forever change the course of human history.
8 votes – “Strongman” by Nicholas Jacobson-Larson & Dalton Leeb – Based on the confusing, sometimes offensive, borderline-insane memories of David Prowse, the irascible Englishman behind Darth Vader’s mask.
7 votes – “Call Jane” by Hayley Schore & Roshan Sethi – Before Roe v. Wade in 1960s Chicago, a pregnant woman becomes a member of an underground group which provides abortions in a safe environment.
7 votes – “Dorothy Gale and Alice” by Justin Merz – Dorothy Gale and Alice meet in a home for those having nightmares and embark on a journey to save the imaginations of the world.
7 votes – “Greenland” by Chris Sparling – A disgraced father is determined to get his family to what, in four days, will be the only safe place on earth.
7 votes – “Jihotties” by Molly Prather – In an effort to fund their start-up, two women catfish ISIS and get more than they bargained for when the CIA recruits them as spies.
7 votes – “The Lodge” (review here) by Veronika Franz & Severin Fiala (Previous draft by Sergio Casci) – A supernatural evil haunts a woman and her stepchildren in a cabin on Christmas.
7 votes – “Meat” (review here) by Logan Martin – A misanthropic man notices bizarre changes in himself, his wife, and the animals inhabiting the territory around their homestead as they attempt to survive self-imposed isolation.
7 votes – “The Poison Squad” by Dreux Moreland & Joey DePaolo – Based on the true story of Harvey Wiley, an eccentric chemist who conducted the first experiment on human tolerance to poison, which catalyzed a movement resulting in the founding of the Food and Drug Administration.
7 votes – “The Prospect – Michael Jordan uses a year as a baseball prospect to find himself after his father’s death.
7 votes – “Rodney & Sheryl” by Ian MacAllister-McDonald – Based on the unbelievable true story of serial killer Rodney Alcala–detectives have estimated Alcala’s body count to be north of 130 victims. Despite being in the midst of a killing spree, Alcala appeared on and won a date with one of the contestants on THE DATING GAME.
7 votes – “Social Justice Warrior” by Emma Fletcher & Brett Weiner – When a liberal, white, college sophomore who knows exactly how to fix society accuses her equally liberal professor of hate speech, it throws the campus and both their lives into chaos as they wage war over the right way to stop discrimination.
7 votes – “The Thing About Jellyfish” by Molly Smith Metzler – After her best friend drowns, a seventh-grade girl is convinced the true cause of the tragedy was a rare jellyfish sting. Retreating into a silent world of imagination, she crafts a plan to prove her theory.
6 votes – “All My Life” by Todd Rosenberg – After discovering the groom has liver cancer, a couple move their wedding date up and get married before he passes away.
6 votes – “American Tabloid” by Adam Morrison – The true story of Generoso Pope, Jr., who with the help of the New York mob turned a small, local paper into the phenomenon that is The National Enquirer, laying the foundation for tabloid journalism as we know it today.
6 votes – “Bios” by Craig Luck & Ivor Powell – In a post-apocalyptic world, a man spends his dying days with the robot he created to look after his dog.
6 votes – “Cancer Inc.” by Marc Macaluso – The true story of the coporatization of cancer in the United States told through the eyes of a British Wall Street analyst who uncovers the corruption behind the approval of a drug intended to treat prostate cancer.
6 votes – “The Fifth Nixon” by Sharon Hoffman – Watergate as experienced through the eyes of President Richard Nixon’s personal secretary Rose Mary Woods.
6 votes – “The Grownup” by Natalie Krinsky – Based on the short story “The Grownup” (review here) by Gillian Flynn. A con woman who pretends to read auras is hired by a wealthy woman to banish an evil spirit from her house, but it is soon clear that the fake exorcist is in over her head.
6 votes – “Green Rush” by Matt Tente – A paroled ex-con agrees to help his daughter steal medical marijuana tax dollars from City Hall.
6 votes – “Health and Wellness” by Joe Epstein – A sociopath obsessed with self-improvement claws her way to the top of the fitness world, leaving a trail of broken bodies in her wake.
6 votes – “Little Boy” by Hayley Schore & Roshan Sethi – The true story of the man
who dropped the world’s first atomic bomb on Hiroshima and his unexpected journey back to ground zero.
6 votes – “On” by Ryan Jennifer Jones – In a slightly futuristic/hyper-efficient Manhattan, a newly-single book editor purchases a customizable sex android to assuage her broken heart. When her toy’s closed feedback loop starts to alter her personality, she must reevaluate the merits of a perfectly- compatible partner.
6 votes – “Panopticon” by Emily Jerome – A look at the criminal justice and private prison system, told from the perspectives of a new inmate, a correctional officer, and a Wall Street hotshot.
6 votes – “Queen Elizabeth” by Shatara Michelle Ford – An uptight high-achieving, black post-grad who becomes (increasingly) irreverent and (slightly) destructive when she realizes that the life she’s living is not the life she wants.
6 votes – “Skyward” by Joe Ballerini – The true story of two families who attempt to escape over the Berlin Wall using a hot air balloon in 1979.
6 votes – “The Sleepover” by Sarah Rothschild – When bad guys break into their home and kidnap their parents, siblings Kevin and Clancy are forced to confront the fact that there may be way more to their stay-at-home mom than meets the eye.
6 votes – “The White Devils” by Leon Hendrix III – Cassius raises his sons, Malcolm and Mandela, isolated and alone in the woods. They have never met another person in their entire lives. The boys have learned to survive and protect their fragile family at all cost. When they find a mysterious wounded white girl, June, alone and lost in their woods, prejudice, lies and love set them on a collision course with the real world that puts all their lives at risk.