Hollywood's famous Black List -- a listing of the hottest as-yet-unproduced screenplays, voted on by industry executives -- was released today, and as always there are some scripts that seem exciting and others that seem... less so. Let's take a look at the best and worst of the list, our judging criteria based solely on the logline descriptions. (And leaving out things that already being made, like Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained and Father Daughter Time, which Matt Damon is slated to direct.) Again, we haven't read any of these (but we might in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!), but what is the movie business if not making snap judgements about things based on very little information? It's everything in the movie business. If you're curious, the full Black List is here.
The Ones They Should Make
Chewie by Evan Susser, Van Robichaux: "A satirical behind the scenes look at the making of Star Wars through the eyes of Peter Mayhew who played Chewbacca"
Sounds like a fun, potentially interesting concept. Humor about nerd culture is a little bit old at this point, but this is more about the source material than the fandom, certainly. But who could play the extremely tall Mayhew? Conan O'Brien?
Maggie by John Scott: "As a 'walking dead' virus spreads across the country, a farm family helps their eldest daughter come to terms with her infection as she slowly becomes a flesh-eating zombie."
Sure people are suffering from zombie fatigue, but this sounds like a new spin on the genre. It's hard to tell from this one sentence if it's a comedy or a drama, though. A comedy could be clever but obvious, but a drama, now that would be interesting.
The End by Aron Eli Coleite: "Four people – a veteran broadcaster in London, a sixteen 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."
This sounds like Melancholia meets Deep Impact and that is fine with us.
Grace of Monaco by Arash Amel: "Grace Kelly, age 33 and having given up her acting career to focus on being a full time princess, 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."
Who doesn't love a good princess biopic? And even better if it ends in terrible, tear-jerk tragedy! Plus it would be lots of fun to watch the scramble of actresses desperately vying for the part. January Jones would be after it, for sure, but oddly we'd like to see a blonde Elizabeth Olsen take the role.
Flarsky by Daniel Sterling: "A political journalist courts his old babysitter, who is now the United States secretary of state."
This sounds like a political version of The Graduate, which could be good in a slightly dopey way. Hollywood's renewed interest in politics is intriguing to watch develop -- maybe this could be a less self-serious Ides of March.
Two Night Stand by Mark Hammer: "After an extremely regrettable one night stand, two strangers wake up to find themselves snowed in after sleeping through a blizzard that put all of Manhattan on ice. They’re now trapped together in a tiny apartment, forced to get to know each other way more than any one night stand should."
Sure the title might be a little hokey, and the concept a little twee, but cast correctly it could be a more lighthearted Weekend, kind of a bottle episode on the big screen.
Breyton Ave by J Daniel Shaffer: "A group of teens living without adults and under their own social order in a small fenced-in neighborhood are forced to face what they fear is the inevitable physical danger beyond the fence."
Ooh, sounds kinda creepy in a fairytale way. It's The Village meets Children of the Corn with Lord of the Flies and some Tom Perrotta thrown in. Though, what exactly is this "inevitable physical danger beyond the fence"? Is it like a philosophical danger, or is there actually some wicked thing out there? We kind hope it's a combination of the two.
The Ones That Should Not Be Made
Ezekiel Moss by Keith Bunin: "A mysterious stranger who possibly has the power to channel the souls of the dead changes the lives of everyone in a small Nebraska town, especially a young widow and her 11-year-old son."
No, no, no. No more mysterious strangers teaching people how to love again! We're done. No more mysterious strangers are welcome, especially ones with names like Ezekiel Moss. What is it with these names? Ezekiel Moss, Bagger Vance, etc. Can't a mysterious stranger who teaches broken people how to embrace life again ever be named, like, Phil Kawalski?
He's Fuckin' Perfect by Lauryn Kahn: "A social media savvy girl who is pessimistic about love finds the perfect guy and decides to use her internet research skills to turn herself into his perfect match."
First off, the title would probably be changed to something like Friend Request, and that's awful. Also awful are romantic comedies cashing in on some "current" trend that feels terribly dated by the time they come out. (See: Benefits, Friends With; Attached, No Strings)
Bethelhem by Larry Brenner: "A group of people struggling to survive a zombie apocalypse make an alliance with a vampire, trading themselves as food in exchange for protection since zombies don’t eat vampire."
"Hey, everyone likes vampires right?" "Right." "And everyone's pretty into zombies, yeah?" "Yeah." "Well you do the math!" We already can't wait for the sequel, wherein the group of people makes friends with a swamp thing to protect themselves from the mummies. (Mummies don't like when swamp things get their bandages all wet.)
The Slackfi Project by Howard Overman: "A hapless and broken hearted barista is visited by two bad-ass soldiers from the future who tell him mankind is doomed, and he alone can save them."
The phrase "brokenhearted barista" should never be in the description of anything, ever. Also, "two bad-ass soldiers." Maybe this script is good (Overman created and writes for the great UK show Misfits), but this description is doing it no justice.
The Museum of Broken Relationships by Natalie Krinsky: "Lucy, a twenty-eight year old junior curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, is sleeping with her boss. When he dumps her she begins a collection of “break up items” and starts a blog which goes viral."
Let's see, is Lucy a 28-year-old junior curator who runs around with trays of coffee and other things in her arms, bumbling along in heels, or is she a 28-year-old junior curator who's a total loser because she eats Chinese food out of the carton and wears glasses? We can't decide which one sounds worse!
St. Vincent De Van Nuys by Ted Melfi: "When a twelve year old boy in need of a babysitter moves in next door to a misanthropic aging retiree whose life mainly consists of gambling, hookers, and drinking, the elder becomes an unlikely mentor to the boy."
Perhaps the only thing worse than the mysterious stranger genre is the wise-cracking old person genre.
The Accountant by Bill Dubuque: "The Treasury Department pursues a brilliant, autistic accountant who doubles as an assassin and “problem-solves” with precision in more ways than one."
Autistic Assassin Accountant sounds like a lotta work. Is this about the kid from Mercury Rising all grown up?
Dirty Grandpa by John Phillips: "A young groom engaged to a demanding woman is forced to spend the week before his wedding with his half-blind, half-crazy, and wholly horny grandfather. Through this wild journey, his grandfather shows him how to take life by the balls and lead with his heart."
Um, good grief.