The Black List 2012 – Hollywoods hottest scripts

The new Denzel Washington-Ryan Reynolds action flick, Safe House was one of the most sought-after scripts on the Hollywood

This is the name given to the best unproduced screenplays doing the rounds in Tinseltown, and every year some 300 film executives vote on the screenplays that they think have the most potential to be hits.

In addition to David Guggenheim’s efforts on Safe House, Margin Call – which is up for the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay this weekend – was also on the 2010 lost, while previous ‘Black List’ entries include The King’s Speech, The Social Network and Juno.

Clearly the annual list is one to watch, so with that in mind, let’s take a closer look at 12 of the most popular picks on the 2012 Black List:

*The Imitation Game:
This script by Graham Moore topped the list this year with 133 votes, and it’s clear to see why. It tells the story of British World War II cryptographer Alan Turing, who cracked the German Enigma code, and helped to invent the modern computer, but later poisoned himself after being criminally prosecuted for being gay. Anyone who saw the recent Channel 4 documentary about Turing will know this is an incredible, tragic story, and, if made, could be a major award magnet for one of Hollywood’s leading men in the next few years.

*When the Street Lights Go On:
With 84 votes, Chris Sutton and Eddie O’Keefe’s screenplay is set in the early 1980s, and focuses on a town suffering through the aftermath of a brutal murder of a high school girl and a teacher. This one has a definite Mystic River vibe about it, and could also eventually prove to be a major Oscar contender.

Who couldn’t but love the sound of this film? Evan Susser and Van Robichaux’s screenplay (with 59 approvals from industry insiders) takes a satirical behind-the-scenes look at the making of Star Wars through the eyes of Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca. Frankly, I’m amazed this isn’t higher on the list, offering as it does the opportunity to both pay homage to and critique the entire George Lucas industry. Susser and Robichaux have since reportedly been asked to write the script for a new live action version of The Jetsons. Nostalgic revisionism is clearly their thing.

*The Outsider:
Penned by Andrew Baldwin (with 53 votes), this is set in post World War II Japan, where an American former POW rises through the ‘yakuza’ crime syndicate. Baldwin has also been recruited to rewrite Logan’s Run for Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive), which will also star Ryan Gosling. Perhaps Refn and Gosling could take this project on next?

*Father Daughter Time: A Tale of Armed Robbery and Eskimo Kisses:
Once that terrible title goes, this script about a man who goes on a crime spree with his 11-year-old daughter as his accomplice could be an edgy hit. Think Leon meets Paper Moon. The writer is Matthew Aldrich, and it had 43 ‘likes’ from ‘Black List’ voters.

*In The Event of a Moon Disaster:
This script (with 33 votes) is described as an alternate telling of the historic Apollo 11 mission to land on the moon that examines what might have happened if the astronauts had crash-landed there. The writer is Mike Jones, a former entertainment journalist, so naturally we’re rooting for him.

With 30 votes, Mike’s Scott’s horror-infused tale is about a ‘walking dead’ virus that spreads across the US, and its impact on a farm family as their eldest daughter come to terms with her infection and slowly becomes a flesh-eating zombie. We say make this one Lindsay Lohan’s comeback! She already has that whole zonked-out zombie thing going for her.

*The Current War:
An intriguing one this (tying with Maggie with 30 votes). Michael Mitnick’s screenplay takes the true story of the race between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse to develop a practical system of electricity, and their bids to sell their respective inventions to the US and the wider world. Oh, now I get the title!

*The End:
(28 votes) Four people – a veteran broadcaster in London, a 16-year-old girl and her boyfriend in Ann Arbor, and a devoted family man in Shanghai – each try to make peace with their lives before an interstellar event ends the world in six hours. Deep Impact meets Babel, maybe? The writer is Aron Eli Coleite, a former writer/producer of TV show Heroes, who is currently working on the new buzz-building horror series The River.

*Beyond The Pale:
No, it’s not a tale about Viking-era Dublin, but rather about a pair of teenage siblings who suspect they’ve been ripped off by the town undertaker. But, as the treatment says, “what they discover is much more sinister than either imagined”. Chad Feehan (producer of All The Boys Love Mandy Lane) is the scribe.

*Ezekiel Moss:
Keith Bunin’s work (27 votes) tells of a mysterious stranger who could have the power to channel the souls of the dead. This changes the lives of everyone in a small Nebraska town, especially a young widow and her 11-year-old son. Hmm, there’s a potential whiff of cheese off this one. It will have to handled with great care.

*Grace of Monaco:
(24 votes) With a Naomi Watts movie already in the works about Princess Diana, it seems fitting that one of the hottest scripts in town concerns that of Princess Grace. Written by Arash Amel (who will also pen I Am Legend 2 for Will Smith), this story focuses on the 33-year-old Grace Kelly, who has given up her acting career to focus on being a full time princess. It tells how she uses her political maneuvering behind the scenes to save Monaco, while French leader Charles de Gaulle and Monaco’s Prince Rainier III are at odds over the principality’s standing as a tax haven.

Words – Declan Cashin
*Safe House is out now.