Every year, The Black List surveys a bunch of Hollywood professionals to hear what they believe are the best screenplays that have gone unproduced. It’s not quite a definitive or fully reliable list – the organization itself states that these are really the “most popular” rather than “best” scripts, but it’s interesting to see what’s floating around the industry. I’m quite disappointed that some of these haven’t been picked up, because they sound amazing. Although their definition of “unproduced” is questionable, since some of these scripts actually have directors or even actors attached to them.
You can read the whole thing at the official site, but I’ve copied down the list itself for your reading pleasure. The numbers next to each title are how many votes that script received in the survey, and they’re listed from the most to fewest number of votes. I’ve also put an asterisk (*) next to the ones that I personally believe sound the most interesting, and a number sign (#) next to the ones that sound especially dumb and/or silly.
65 – Draft Day
Rajiv Joseph, Scott Rothman
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.
43 – A Country of Strangers *
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.
43 – Seuss *
Eyal Podell, Jonathan Stewart
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.”
39 – Rodham
Young Il Kim
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.
35 – Story of Your Life *
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.
33 – Wunderkind
A Mossad employed father and his CIA agent son team up to hunt an escaped Nazi.
31 – Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile *
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.
29 – Glimmer
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.
29 – Me & Earl & the Dying Girl
Based on Andrews’s eponymous novel, a quirky high school student who enjoys making films sparks a friendship with a classmate dying of leukemia.
28 – Devils at Play *
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.
26 – Sweet Virginia
Paul China, Benjamin China
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.
25 – Fathers and Daughters
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.
23 – Shut In
A woman who tries to raise her catatonic son on her own suddenly discovers a shocking secret about him.
22 – The Keeping Room
Three southern women defend their home from the Union army while their husbands are off fighting in the Civil War.
21 – If They Move… Kill ‘Em! *
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.
20 – Americatown *
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.
20 – Sand Castle
Based on a true story, a group of United States soldiers in Iraq risk their lives to save a local village.
20 – The Judge
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.
19 – Clive #
After an accident causes a successful CEO to lose both legs, he is forced to re-evaluate his life and identity.
19 – Comancheria
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.
19 – Flower #
A coming of age story about the unlikely bond that forms between a sexually adventurous teenage girl and her obese, mentally unstable step-brother.
19 – Whalemen
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.
19 – Whiplash
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.
18 – George
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.
17 – The Fault in Our Stars
Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber
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.
17 – The One That Got Away #
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.
16 – The Ballad of Pablo Escobar *
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
16 – The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea *
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.
16 – Man of Tomorrow *
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.
15 – El Tigre #
Aaron Buchsbaum, Teddy Riley
A family vacation goes horribly awry when the father is mistaken for the most ruthless drug lord in Mexico, El Tigre.
15 – Murder City
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.
14 – The Final Broadcast
Chris Hutton, Eddie O’Keefe
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.
14 – The Survivalist
Years after lack of resources result in much of the world’s population dying off, a survivalist is living on a farm alone until a woman and her seventeen year old daughter show up looking for cover.
13 – Black Box
When Air Force One crashes, a journalist discovers a cover up after gaining access to the plane’s black box data and must unravel the mystery.
13 – Cherries #
Brian Kehoe, Jim Kehoe
Three fathers learn of their teenage daughters’ pact to lose their virginity on prom night and band together to stop them.
13 – From New York to Florida
An undisciplined boy is sent to Florida for the summer with his grandparents, and the drive south changes him forever.
13 – Hey, Stella!
The story of how Marlon Brando won the role of Stanley Kowalski in Elia Kazan’s broadway play A Streetcar Named Desire.
12 – The Broken
In 1967 Oklahoma, a war vet/farmer investigates the suspicious death of his estranged son in the next county. When he discovers his son’s brutal murder was a covered-up gay bashing, he goes on a one-man mission to take down the corrupt sheriff responsible.
12 – The Disciple Program
A man begins an investigation into his wife’s mysterious death, only to find that it goes much deeper than he imagined.
12 – Jojo Rabbit
After being severely hurt by a grenade at Hitler youth camp, a prideful and nationalistic ten-year old boy discovers that his mother is hiding a fifteen year old Jewish girl in their house.
11 – All-Nighter
An aging hitman goes up against his boss over a single night in order to protect his family.
11 – McCarthy *
It is 1951. Junior Senator Joe McCarthy feels lost. He’s anonymous, just another suit on Capitol Hill. He craves attention and celebrity. He’s desperate to be noticed, to be adored. Inspired by the response of the American public to the House of Un-American Activities Committee, McCarthy decides that communism will be his defining issue. What follows is nearly unthinkable — national fame, a shocking conspiracy, a sitting President afraid to oppose him, and a torrid journey of self destruction and paranoia.
11 – The Winter Kills
A disgraced cop pursues the serial killer who murdered his partner ten years ago, has resurfaced, and is killing again.
11 – Who Framed Tommy Callahan? #
An elementary school student searches for the truth behind the candy bar ring conspiracy that got his brother expelled.
10 – Our Name is Adam
An astronaut travels back in time to enlist the help of his younger self.
10 – The Portland Condition
Dan Cohn, Jeremy Miller
Set against the backdrop of rainy Portland, Oregon, a young man finds himself falling in love for the first time – only to receive a letter from his future self, warning him of impending heartbreak.
10 – Somacell
A female prison guard in the future, where prisoners are rehabilitated with virtual reality, discovers a conspiracy that puts her loyalty into question.
10 – Untitled Cops Script #
Following a costume party where they dressed as cops, two best friends are mistaken for actual police officers and find themselves on the run, after being forced to bring a dangerous criminal back to the station.
9 – Conversion
Marissa Jo Cerar
A preacher’s wife, grieving from the loss of her teenage son and struggling to hold her family together, forms an unlikely friendship with a young street hustler who helps her understand her lost son and survive alcoholic depression.
9 – Goodbye, Felix Chester
After finding out he has a month left to live, high school junior Felix Chester focuses all of his time and energy on one goal: losing his virginity to his dream girl.
9 – Penny Dreadful #
Desperate to hang on to his pregnant girlfriend, bumbling Dennis gets caught up in a kidnapping scheme gone awry, leaving him saddled with a sociopathic little girl who seemingly calls the shots.
8 – Border Country
A veteran goes to war against a crew of corrupt cops intent on controlling the US / Mexico border.
8 – Doppelgangers #
Evan Mirzai, Shea Mirzai
Buttoned-down 20-something Eric isn’t ready to marry his longtime girlfriend Abby. His only way out is through slacker Sam, his identical twin brother, who offers to pose as Eric to do the dumping. But the plan becomes a disaster when Sam realizes Abby is actually really cool–and falls head over heels for her…
8 – The Equalizer
A veteran covert operative seeking redemption for his dark deeds quits a CIA-like agency and devotes himself to helping others where injustice has been done.
8 – Ground Control to Major Tom
After nine years, a NASA communications expert reconnects with the astronaut she believed to be dead and helps rescue him from space.
8 – Out of State
While driving his regular interstate bus route, an emotionally fractured ex-convict finds himself acting as a father figure to a forsaken young boy from the Philadelphia ghetto, even though he knows that the boy is smuggling drugs.
8 – Times Square
Taylor Materne, Jake Rubin
Set amidst the transformation of Times Square from New York’s seediest neighborhood to the commercialized Disneyland it is today, when a secret from his past is unearthed, a young man’s loyalties are divided between his neighborhood boss who raised him and the grizzled ex-cop who swore to protect him.
7 – Bleeding Kansas *
Russell Sommer, Dan Frey
A runaway slave and a sheriff must journey to rescue the kidnapped daughter of a Gubernatorial candidate against the backdrop of Kansas’ induction into statehood and whether or not it would be a slave or free state.
7 – Ex-Boyfriend of the Bride #
After he finds out his ex-girlfriend is getting married, a man decides to go to the wedding in order to stop her from going through with it.
7 – Hibernation
Will Frank, Geneva Robertson-Dworet
A wrongly convicted inmate volunteers for a hibernation experiment in exchange for one day of parole every five years, which he uses to prove his innocence and search for his missing daughter across an increasingly futuristic landscape.
7 – The Hooverville Dead
Set in St. Louis in the 1920s, washed up baseball player Will Cosgrove is a private eye with his older brother Ross. When Ross goes missing, Will stumbles upon a deep secret that the disease taking over the town is not quite what it seems and a mob boss turned Governor will do anything to keep the town’s secret from being revealed.
7 – The Killing Spree #
Derek Elliott, Jack Donaldson
Heartbroken after being dumped by his longtime girlfriend, a guy’s best friends devise the perfect plan for his recovery and teach him how to sleep with as many women as humanly possible.
7 – Midnight at Noon
On the run after robbing a bank during the great depression, two brothers find themselves trapped in the harsh region known as the Dust Bowl where a ruthless killer hunts them down.
7 – The Outskirts
Dominique Ferrari, Suzanne Wrubel
After falling victim to a humiliating prank by the high school Queen Bee, best friends and world-class geeks, Mindy and Jodi, decide to get their revenge by uniting the outcasts of the school against her and her circle of friends.
7 – Stockholm, Pennsylvania
A young woman, kidnapped when she was a kid, returns home to the family she barely remembers and struggles to feel ‘at home.
7 – Transcendence *
An epic love story set in a time where a dying scientist is able to upload his consciousness into the internet and, facing its global implications, must fight against the forces who are actively working against the existence of a singularity.
6 – Almanac
Jason Pagan, Andrew Stark
A group of high school kids discover how to time travel, but fail to recognize the potential consequences.
6 – Come and Find Me
When his girlfriend goes missing, David must track down her whereabouts after he realizes she’s not who she was pretending to be.
6 – Don’t Make Me Go
When a single father to a teenage daughter learns that he has a fatal brain tumor, he takes her on a road trip to find the mother who abandoned her years before and to try to teach her everything she might need over the rest of her life.
6 – The Eel
An escaped convict is ensnared in a plot by a corrupt Sheriff to kidnap the young heiress to an oil fortune, complicating his quest for freedom.
6 – Fuck Marry Kill #
Neel Shah, Alex Blagg
Three best friends return for their high school reunion intent on righting all the wrongs done to them in high school … by either fucking, marrying, or killing their tormentors.
6 – Hold On to Me
Based on an article written by Hillel Levin and Jim Keene, a ruthless and moneyhungry woman uses a hapless man as a pawn in her criminal schemes.
6 – King of Heists
Based on the book King of Heists: The Sensational Bank Robbery of 1878 That Shocked America, written by J. North Conway. An unassuming man in the elite New York society assembles a crew that pulls off the largest bank heist in American history in 1878.
6 – The Lighthouse *
William Van Alen’s building of the Chrysler building and the competition to be the first to complete the world’s tallest building.
6 – Monsoon
A dangerous love affair between a photojournalist and a black market smuggler set against the June 2001 massacre of the Royal Family in Nepal.
6 – The Paper Man
The true story of Matthias Sindelar, the Austrian footballer voted as the Sportsman of the Century and killed by Hitler’s Nazi party.
6 – Peste
Following the outbreak of a virus that wipes out the majority of the human population, a teen documents her family’s new life in quarantine and tries to protect her infected sister.
6 – Titans of Park Row *
Young William Randolph Hearst goes to war against an aging Joseph Pulitzer as each tries to monopolize coverage of a mysterious homicide capturing New York’s imagination, birthing the modern concept of sensationalist media coverage.