The 2013 Black List Scripts, A-G

Saturday, February 01, 2014 at 8:55 p.m.
The Black List here refers to a selection of screenplays that have not been produced into actual movies that are voted by Hollywood studio heads because they liked them a lot, an exercise done annually, usually released around December. Some of the past Black List scripts that were eventually made include Django Unchained, Juno, Source Code, and Lars And The Real Girl.

I've read up to the Gs so far and to be honest, I didn't finish reading about a third of them, while many of the rest were quite subpar (in a "how did it end up on this pile?!" sort of way), but for these ones below, let's just say they were more entertaining than 96% of all the movies I saw in 2013.

by Stephany Folsom
The title alone should alert you to why this is a good read! (… Doesn't ring a bell? Okay, it's a story about one version of the moon landing hoax …)

by Ian Shorr
Holy cow this was a good script! My favourite of all the 2013 Black List scripts so far. A superbly plotted sci-fi thriller with a genuinely inventive plot and a wisecracking protagonist makes for a fun and exciting read. Script's been optioned and could be on its way to being made (if not, Shorr should definitely be hired for more work and achieve the same success as previous Black List alumni Adam Cozad — Dubai, going on to write Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit — and Jon Spaihts — Passengers, going on to write Prometheus).

by Max Hurwitz
The script hooked me when it indicated in the beginning that it's about the infamous Conficker virus, which led me to think it was based on real events. It wasn't, but it's still a great read, a cyber-thriller that twists and turns and gives us a techno-savvy hero we can sympathise with (heck, I like his idiosyncratic police handler too), and introduces inventive scenes such as when the hero and his meet-cute get to know each other better while driving a stolen car with a laptop.

by Shea Mirzai & Evan Mirzai
It sees the level of depravity and raunchiness of The Hangover movies and … zooms way past it. Three friends cross over to Tijuana and accidentally get involved in the deadliest vehicle race that side of the US-Mexico border. It's rude, it's lewd, it's violent … how bad is it? Here's one line: "Steve walks further into the bar only to literally see TWO GROWN MEN DOUBLE PENETRATING A DONKEY. The donkey brays in delight/terror."

by Spenser Cohen
A family bands together to survive a sudden and confusing invasion by an alien army. The description is unrelentingly melodramatic, so I read it till the end only because the plot kept things as realistic and human as is possible, staying very close to the characters' fear and motivation all the time. The revelation in the end works.

by Simon Stephenson
A delightfully charming comedy about a wisecracking paediatrician going down to 'Frisco' for a medical conference who's joined by a stowaway teenage girl dying of cancer. The dialogue is humorous all the way, and yet contains a lot of heart as we come to love the characters and enjoy the time spent with them.

by Jake Morse & Scott Wolman
The plot begins with the Knight Rider concept, a hotshot detective and his talking car, then twists it into something more like The Other Guys, or the Starsky & Hutch remake, with a seriously, seriously foul-mouthed and ridiculously horny car and the fat, loser officer who inherits him (a younger Seth Rogen could've played him, or perhaps Jonah Hill). It's a fun read all the way. 

by Bo Burnham

The title seems to be indicative of the kind of movie it might be, and then I start reading and the plot takes it to an unexpectedly epic level (as epic as high school comedies go). It's perfect for an American indie comedy, to be directed by an up-and-coming young American director. The plotting is sound (speaking as someone who holds American mainstream cinema as the best model of film storytelling), the characters are solid and I really liked both of them. The only crappy part is the last scene (which functions as the denouement), which totally feels like it was punched in because the writer didn't have time to think of a good place to end before submitting, which is an easy fix so no big deal. Also the writing itself is already quite cinematic; I can already see the edits, the montages, where the music would go. I'd love to see this movie.

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