Photo courtesy of PBS.
There's a good chance that most of the movies you fell in love with over the last decade first appeared on The Black List, an annual compilation of the best unproduced scripts in Hollywood. Launched in 2004, by former film executive Franklin Leonard, the poll uses feedback from 250 producers and financiers to determine the future Oscar winners. So far, so good: Award-winners Juno, Argo, and The King's Speech all appeared on past lists.
With such a shining record of success, The Black List has become a very reliable prognosticator of what types of scripts Hollywood producers are looking for. According to Leonard, 2013 was heavy on the biopic, as scripts about Stanley Kubrick (1969: A Space Odyssey Or How Kubrick Learned To Stop Worrying And Land On The Moon), Steven Spielberg (The Mayor Of Shark City), Mr. Rogers (A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood), and John McEnroe (Superbrat) all made the list.
Another white-hot genre is political thrillers in a similar vein to Black List success story Argo. Section 6, about the inception of Britain's M-6 spy service and the CIA thriller The Company Man are just two of this year's hopefuls.
"American political life has increasing amounts of discord, subterfuge, and capital D Drama." Leonard explained to Fast Company. "It's an easy context in which to create a story where there are big stakes and complications and deceit."
Classic cinematic tropes like The Revenge Pic (Dig, Broken Cove) and newer microgenres like the The Doomed Teenager Movie (Frisco, Make A Wish) are also popular categories on this year's list. But, no matter what stories the sought-after scripts explore, Leonard insists they all have one thing in common: "The ability to present three-dimensional characters, tell a dramatic story, and elicit an emotional reaction are ultimately what gets people to say, 'Hey, I read this great thing yesterday, you should check it out.'" (Fast To Create)