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Photo: Black List Scripts
The Black List, a collection of unproduced screenplays and pilots, puts out a list every year of exciting potential projects, a list put together by the very people who have the power to make those projects a reality, Hollywood’s elite producers. The way the list is structured for 2020 is that a project must receive at least seven different mentions from seven different producers to be included on the list and are ordered according to the total number of mentions that that project receives, meaning that the list itself is not a top-five or ten or twenty but does show which projects producers are most excited about: if a hypothetical film receives 21 mentions, for example, that’s three times the minimum number of mentions required to appear on the list, meaning that that film might just have enough of Hollywood’s momentum behind it to be made in the future.
So, the list is a good way of judging what project might be the next project, and, given the history of the list’s successes, including films like ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’, ‘Argo’, ‘The Wrestler’, ‘American Hustle’, and so many more, the list has predicted the next project and maybe even contributed to that project’s existence as such. I took a look at the list for 2020 in the hopes to see what projects might be popping up on big-screen across the country in the near future, and what I found were quite a few films that I’d like to watch myself; so I decided that I’d wrap it up in a nice little top five list for you.
Here We Go – The Black List:
Number Five: ‘Headhunter’
“A high-functioning cannibal selects his victims based on their Instagram popularity, but finds his habits shaken by a man who wants to be eaten.”
This film received the most mentions of any film on the 2020 Black List with 29. I imagine it was so popular among producers because it deals with an issue, relevant to most people’s lives now, especially relevant among a younger demographic, Instagram (not cannibalism). Though the metaphor probably isn’t lost on anyone, the self-cannibalizing nature of social media, film should talk about the things that make up a life, even if its unsexy to talk about those things, and life in 2021 is largely lived online; so I hope to see more films about that, exploring what it means for our lives going forward as life continues to digitize.
Number 4: ‘Bring Me Back’
“When a woman on an interstellar voyage falls in love with someone during a cryosleep simulation, she attempts to discern whether the man is a real passenger on the ship or just a figment of her imagination.”
I love movies about space, and I especially love movies that blur the boundary between the real and the imaginary because those two forces are always blurring into and out of the other, as an essential feature of our experience of reality. You don’t need to experience a cryosleep simulation in space on an interstellar voyage to know what I’m talking about; just hop on Instagram and find your local cannibal. The space aesthetic is nice though. Maybe the film’s a metaphor for our experience of love too, always as real as it is a little imaginary? Romantics know what I’m talking about.
Number 3: ‘The Peak’
“A troubled young surgeon travels to a desolate peak to climb the mountain where her father suffered a mental breakdown years earlier, only to realize halfway up the rock wall that she might be subject to the same fate.”
I think one of the most powerful things about Cinema is that it can show us those things about the world, about ourselves that we might not want to see, might not want to acknowledge and, in doing so, may change us, may change the world. In much the same way, nature can do this too, being in nature, being forced to examine our own nature against its, the tangle of the wild, which is why survival films are so endlessly enjoyable: they do both simultaneously. I’ve never been in a life or death survival situation nor do I ever want to be, but, thanks to movies like this, I have some idea of what it might take out of you and what you might get back.
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Number 2: ‘Rewired’
“Harvard. 1959. A young Ted Kaczynski is experimented on by Dr. Henry Murray during a secret CIA psychological study that may have led to the creation of the Unabomber.”
I’m absolutely fascinated by the Unabomber, as I think a lot of people are, but I think it’s because I’m more fascinated about the man behind the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski. I’ve seen most of the documentaries, most of the dramatizations about the events surrounding the UNABOMB case, but I can’t think of one that focused entirely on the man himself, Ted Kaczynski. What makes someone become the Unabomber is as important as the case itself, and this event, supposedly, played a crucial role in that transformation. Watching that transformation unfold on screen, well, that’s a monster movie in the making.
Number 1: ‘Cosmic Sunday’
“A small percentage of the population is stuck in a time loop and have had to create a society that functions within the same day, repeated day in and day out. One man struggles to find himself for the first time in ages amidst a society clinging to a sense of normalcy.”
At last! Number one! At last! Number one! At last! Number one! Get it? ‘Groundhog Day’ is one of my favorite films of all time, certainly my favorite Bill Murray movie, so films like it, time loop movies, always have a place in my movie queue. I think it’s an extremely dynamic genre(?) of film, full of moments both funny and poignant, sometimes moments that even approach the profound. Time has a way of doing that, containing every expression, every permutation of that expression, especially when you’re dealing with infinite time. How time will unfold in this film and what the world of this film will look like because of that, I can’t begin to imagine, but I’m in; I’m in because films like this help us to imagine.
I don’t know when or even if we’ll ever see these films, but I hope that we do; and I hope you’ll check out the Black List because there’s a bunch of other great films on the 2020 list that I didn’t mention and, even still, more unproduced films from previous year’s lists, just waiting, just waiting.
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