Welcome. Come one. Come all. To the Second Not Exactly Annual Reader Top 25 List. It’s been awhile since our first list. All you need to do is read through it to see that. Most of the scripts on there have already been made. Which means it’s facelift time. Now, as far as what this list is, it is a list of the Scriptshadow Readers Top 25 favorite screenplays. The only stipulation is that the movie can't have hit theaters yet. So produced screenplays are eligible.
As for how the voting went, pay close attention because it’s a little confusing. I polled roughly 250 readers. Each reader sent me their Top 10 list. Every script on that list was assigned a point value of 1-10 depending on its placement. 1st place votes got 10 points. 2nd place votes got 9 points. 3rd place votes got 8 points. And so on down the line. I then added all those points together to determine the scripts’ standing. There’s a small twist. Anybody who had read more than 300 scripts in their life got double points. So their first place votes counted for 20 points, their second place points 18, etc. There were roughly 50 people who had read more than 300 scripts.
But none of that stuff is interesting to you right now. You want results. Just make sure you stick around afterwards . Because at the end of the list, you’ll find the TOP 5 AMATEUR SCRIPTS REVIEWED ON SCRIPTSHADOW. Yes, we voted on those too. And I think the Top 5 are quite good. Anyway, let’s get to the lists!
#25 (94 pts) College Republicans
Writer: Wes Jones
Premise: Aspiring politician Karl Rove runs a dirty campaign for the national College Republican Chairman under the guidance of Lee Atwater, his campaign manager.
About: Number 1 on the 2010 Black List. Shia LaBeouf is rumored to be up for the part of Karl Rove. The rest of the internet is reporting this as a comedy. But I don’t remember laughing. In fact, I don’t remember really connecting with it at all. Then again, this isn’t my list, it’s yours!
#24 (100 pts) The Voices
Writer: Michael R. Perry
Premise: A disturbed man with a good heart is tormented by his talking pets, who convince him to do things he'd rather not do.
About: This one is number 5 on my list. It also finished number 3 on the 2009 Black List. Last I heard Ben Stiller is still connected to the project. Michael R. Perry recently penned the Paranormal Activity 2 script. Which is of course a LIE because that movie is REAL!
#23 (102 pts) L.A. Rex
Writer: Will Beall (based on his novel)
Premise: Rookie LAPD officer Ben Halloran gets partnered with scarred and tobacco-spitting Officer Marquez, and the unlikely team hit the streets of L.A. on the brink of a gang-rivalry explosion amid run-ins with the Mexican mafia, brutal gang murders, and corrupt cops.
About: Will Beall’s been writing a lot of stuff lately. And I know Roger really dug this. But I took one look at the 18,000 pages with dual line dialogue and said “no thank you.” Plus the premise sounded too scattershot to me. I like my crime movies simple. Like Training Day. Still, lots of people seem to like this one.
#22 (116 pts) The Muppet Man
Writer: Christopher Weekes
Premise: A look at the final weeks of Jim Henson’s life, the creator of the most famous puppet franchise of all time, The Muppets.
About: Number 1 on the 2009 Black List. The script actually sold to the Henson company, though it’s not clear if they bought it to make or to make sure it wouldn’t get made. It’s a pretty intense look at the muppet creator and that may scare them. The ending here made me cry like a baby. An interesting script indeed.
#21 (136 pts) After Hailey
Writer: Scott Frank (based on a novel by Jonathan Tropper)
Premise: After a newlywed war photographer’s wife dies, he must decide whether to help out her troubled son from a previous marriage or move on and start a new life.
About: This is one of the more famous unmade scripts in Hollywood. Everyone seems to read it expecting nothing, then comes out of it floored – turning people into After Hailey converts. Not sure what the status is, but I have a hard time believing this won’t get made at some point. It’s better than almost all of the other character pieces out there. The next The Kids Are All Right.
#20 (140 pts) Father Daughter Time
Writer: Matthew Aldrich
Premise: A man goes on the lam with his daughter on a 3-state crime spree.
About: This is the script that caused that big bidding war a few months ago and the brouhaha between Matt Damon and Warners. He wanted to develop it himself to direct. Then Warners tried to outbid him. Then they both agreed to work on it together, though it’s unclear if Damon is completely happy with that arrangement (studio interference is never a good thing for creatvity). I still haven’t read the script, but it seems to be popular. A lot of readers have personally told me how much they like it. Supposedly John Krasinski is Damon’s pick to star? I guess that’s one way to get out of the office.
#19 (143 pts) Seven Psychopaths
Writer: Martin McDonagh
Premise: A writer’s life is violently turned upside down when his friends kidnap a Mafioso’s dog.
About: “Seven Psychopaths” is McDonagh’s third film script. It’s his favorite unproduced script. At the age of 27, McDonagh became the first writer since Shakespeare to have four plays performed simultaneously in London. His plays have been nominated for multiple Tony Awards. He won an Oscar for his short, “Six Shooter”. He was also nominated for a Best Original Screenplay Oscar with “In Bruges”. I personally have never read this script. So I can’t offer any opinions on it. As much as this will piss everyone off, I never understood the love for In Bruges, so I never sought 7Psyche out.
Writer: Martin McDonagh.
#18 (155 pts) The F Word
Writer: Elan Mastai
Premise: A guy begins hanging out with a girl under the pretense that she’s single, only to later find out she has a boyfriend.
About: This one’s been talked about ad nauseam on the site so I won’t bore you with any more chatter. If you’d like to learn more about it, check out the review and then check out the interview I did with the writer, Elan.
#17 (170 pts) Gangster Squad
Writer: Will Beall
Premise: A chronicle of the LAPD's fight to keep East Coast Mafia types out of Los Angeles in the 1940s and 50s.
About: Warners is really high on this one and everyone tells me it’s great. I still haven’t read it yet though, and that’s because I still can’t get past the thought of those entire acts shown through dual-side dialogue in Beall’s other script, L.A. Rex. I imagine it taking me like 6 hours to read the script. Still, that’s pretty impressive. Two scripts on the Reader Top 25. Beall is definitely a writer to watch out for. Ryan Gosling will star. Ruben Fleischer, director of Zombieland, is attached to direct this one. Help me out here. Is this a comedy?
#16 (173 pts) All You Need Is Kill
Writer: Dante Harper (based on the Japanese novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka)
Premise: A young soldier on an alien planet is forced to fight an impossible battle against an alien force every single day as if the previous day didn’t exist. In doing so, he becomes an ultimate warrior.
About: This was a seven figure spec deal from last year. It’s stayed with me since I read it and could contain some of the most outrageous action sequences ever put on film. Who’s going to figure out how to pull those scenes off though is anyone’s guess. I know Doug Liman was attached to this for awhile but I don’t know who’s onboard currently.
#15 (199 pts) Dogs Of Babel
Writer: Jamie Linden (based on the novel by Carolyn Parkhurst)
Premise: When a dog is the only witness to a woman’s death, her husband tries to teach the dog how to talk so he can find out what happened to her.
About: Number 1 on the Carson Top 25! Woo-hoo! Since reviewed on Scriptshadow, Steve Carrell became attached to this project. It’s time for Steve to stop messing around and admit he’s a Scriptshadow fan since he attaches himself to half the projects I review on here. Come on Steven. Fess up.
#14 (211 pts) Mixtape
Writer: Stacy Menear
Premise: A thirteen year old outcast finds a mixtape that belonged to her deceased parents, accidentally destroys it, and must use the song list to find all the music.
About: Finished with 14 votes on 2009’s Black List. Seth Gordon was attached to direct and Chloe Moretz was attached to star but since then, both of their careers have shot into the stratosphere so I don’t know if they’re still planning to make this. But SOMEONE needs to make this. Get on it Hollywood. Ya jackals.(read an interview I did with Stacy here)
#13 (224 pts) Roundtable
Writer: Brian K. Vaughn
Premise: Merlin assembles a group of modern-day knights to battle a resurrected ancient evil, but all that’s available are an alcoholic ex-Olympian, a geriatric actor, a grumpy billionaire, and a nerdy scientist.
About: This one’s been called the next Ghostbusters…well…since before Ghostbusters. Of all of Vaughn’s scripts, this one holds the most promise by far, but for whatever reason is stuck in development hell. One of these days a Hollywood exec should create a development heaven. Just to make people feel a little better about their projects. Ya know?
#12 (257 pts) Tell No One
Writers: Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman
Premise: A widowed social worker receives a strange message that forces him to reevaluate what happened the day his wife was murdered.
About: Hollywood’s so out of ideas these days that they’re actually adapting something that was made in another country that was adapted from their own country. What’s next? As I mentioned yesterday, Ben Affleck is now directing this, and he’s using Argo screenwriter Chris Terrio to rewrite it for him. Which, you know, is so Hollywood. Cause they can’t just use the script that’s already awesome. Maybe Terrio was hired to get rid of all of Orci and Kurtzaman’s underlining and italics?
#11 (262 pts) Nautica (aka “Riptide”)
Writer: Richard McBrien
Premise: An investigator tries to solve a murder case on a ship that involves a handyman, a young stock broker and the stock broker's girlfriend. We shift back and forth through points of view to tell the story.
About: Nautica was originally written and sold back in 2001 and was going to be directed by Tarsem Singh. Right now, Brad Pitt and Shia Labeouf are rumored to play roles in the film. I’ve heard that this movie is moving forward, but you never can tell these days. Count this as the biggest surprise of the list. I did not know there was so much love for Nautica.
Writer: Richard McBrien
#10 (315 pts) Safe House
Writer: David Guggenheim
Premise: When a group of villains destroy a CIA-operated safe house, the facility's young house-sitter must work to move the criminal who's being hidden there to another secure location.
About: This was one of those dream spec situations. It sold for a bunch of money then went on the fast track to a green light. It’s now starring Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds, even though I coulda swore they just co-starred in that movie Unstoppable. They should think of combining these two movies into something called “The Unstoppable House.” It would be about a “wide load” freeway house that’s on a rampage to kill every car on the road. Throw in a chimpanzee and you’re talking half a billion worldwide at least.
#9 (388 pts) Seeking A Friend At The End Of The World
Writer: Lorene Scafaria
Premise: A lonely man meets up with a strange woman a week before the earth is to be destroyed by an asteroid.
About: Lorene was able to nab Steve Carrell and Keira Knightly to star in this, her directing debut. The film is shooting right now. Since she only has one produced credit, this just shows you the power of a great script. Write one and who knows, you could be directing Steve Carrell (or even better - Ryan Reynolds!) in four months.
#8 (440 pts) Django Unchained
Writer: Quentin Tarantino
Premise: A slave-turned-bounty hunter sets out to rescue his wife from the brutal Calvin Candie, a Mississippi plantation owner.
About: Still haven’t read this one and don’t know if I will. Might just wait for the film. What a cast, huh? DiCaprio. Sam Jackson, Waltz, Kevin Costner, Jamie Foxx. This was pretty much a no-brainer for the Top 10.
#7 (507 pts) Passengers
Writer: Jon Spaihts
Premise: A spacecraft transporting thousands of people to a distant planet has a malfunction in one of its sleep chambers. As a result, a single passenger is awakened 90 years before anyone else. Faced with the prospect of growing old and dying alone, he wakes up a second passenger whom he's fallen in love with.
About: Didn’t like this one initially but must admit, it’s grown on me. It’s basically like Titanic on a spaceship, but with the weird twist of it not being anything like that. I hope they make this cause it will be one of the more interesting movies of the decade.
#6 (537 pts) Drive
Writer: Hossein Amini (adapted from the novel by James Sallis)
Premise: A stunt driver moonlighting as a getaway driver gets caught up in a job that’s over his head.
About: Nicolas Winding Refn directs Ryan Gosling. This film won best director at Cannes. It is in my personal Top 10. It’s a sweet script. But I never read the 98 page version. I only read the 120+ behemoth. So it’ll be interesting to see what they cut out.
#5 (565 pts) The Grey
Writers: Joe Carnahan and Ian Mackenzie Jeffers (based on the short story ‘Ghost Walkers’ by Ian Mackenzie Jeffers)
Premise: A group of oil drillers on a plane ride home, crash in the arctic tundra, where they become hunted by a vicious pack of overgrown wolves.
About: Good news. Carnahan has already gone and shot this movie and I’m hearing good things. It stars Liam Neeson in the title role. Not much else to say other than give me my plane crash with a side order of WOLF KILLINGS!
#4 (571 pts) Untitled Chef Project
Writer: Steven Knight
Premise: A selfish workaholic chef tries to get back into the restaurant game after a much publicized meltdown years ago.
About: One of the best leading man roles available in a screenplay at this moment and time. Yet nobody’s taking it. Why? I’m guessing cause the script is wrapped up in too much money? Anyway, Mr. Fincher, if you’re not going to make this, please let someone else make it. (you can find this script online by searching for the title and "pdf")
#3 (599 pts) The Brigands Of Rattleborge
Writer: S. Craig Zahler
Premise: A group of bandits use the cover of a torrential thunderstorm to rob the occupants of a small town.
About: Revenge on the brain? I should think so. Brigands got new life when it was re-optioned last year. But we’re still waiting for this potential classic to hit production. If Untitled Chef Project has the best leading man role in a script right now, this one has 1a. Abraham will be a classic character for whomever plays him. In the meantime, pop in that old copy of Once Upon On A Time In The West. We have a year or two ahead of us before this sees movement.
#2 (607 pts) Smoke and Mirrors
Writers: Lee and Janet Scott Batchler
Premise: The reclusive "Father of Modern Magic", Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin, is called upon by the French government to debunk an Algerian sorcerer who is using his feats of magic to spearhead a civil war.
About: This script sold for 1 million bucks back in 1994. It’s always been a town favorite and at one point Steven Spielberg was attached. It was one of those movies that felt like a sure thing, but then actors kept dropping out and eventually the buzz died. Now it’s just stuck in that weird purgatory, where people still love the script, but they consider it a relic of the 90s. I still haven’t read it yet but I will one of these days. :)
#1 (648 pts) Killing On Carnival Row
Writer: Travis Beacham
Premise: In the city of The Burgue, a police inspector pursues a serial killer who is targeting fairies.
About: And so it is! Carnival Row takes the number one spot! True I never got into this, but it seems to capture the hearts of film geeks everywhere. I doth not protest. I do think it would be a great film to make, especially with Del Toro doing the directing, but he’s so swamped with shit that that’s probably not going to happen. Let’s hope some talented new director jumps in and makes this happen. I can still see the trailer in my head.
AMATEUR TOP 5!
And NOW, for the list you’ve REALLY been waiting for. Yup. It’s time for the AMATEUR TOP 5. Pfft, screw that whole Professional Top 25 shit. This is the real deal. To give you some perspective, there have been around 60 amateur scripts reviewed since the birth of Scriptshadow. Roughly 45 people voted for their Top 5. Scripts just missing the cut were Wrong Number, Disappearing World, Real Men Play Futebol, 360, Bass Champion, and Tribute. Here, now, are the Top 5. And the great thing about these five? You can download the scripts inside the reviews! So hop on over there and start reading yourselves. Drumroll please……
#5 (29 points) The Black Soul Of Elijah Harden
Writer: E. Joshua Eanes
Premise: Days away from his execution, the most notorious man in America awakens with amnesia and quickly discovers that his condition might be the result of more than a seizure induced head injury.
About: Readers complained of its messiness, but there was no doubt that this script had something. If Josh can sharpen up the edges, not gloss over the details, it could be a really cool screenplay. One of the few amateur scripts to get a “worth the read” on the site.
#4 (41 points) The Sleep Of Reason
Writer: Lee Matthias
Premise: After his wife goes missing, a man heads to the darkest reaches of Transylvania to find her.
About: This one is slow going, but it’s rich with detail and probably my personal favorite Amateur Friday script. I feel like if Matthias can loosen up his writing style so that the description isn’t so dense, this script will be easier to read, and therefore gain more fans.
#3 (44 points) Alien Diaries
Writer: Glenn J. Devlin
Premise: A book appraiser working at an old farm mansion finds a diary that implies the family who used to live there 200 years ago may have come in contact with a crashed alien ship.
About: There’s no doubt Glenn has one of the best loglines out there. It’s got him a ton of reads. But the story itself is a tough one to tell, and to be honest, I’m still not sure how I would tell it myself. But if he can somehow crack this, it’s got the kind of hook that could lead to a big sale.
#2 (62 points) The Bridge
Writers: Dominic Morgan & Matt Cameron Harvey
Premise: A convict and a construction crew inadvertently spark a gun battle when they rescue a woman on the run from her violent husband and his dangerous associates. Trapped on a mile-long bridge and cut off from the outside world, they have to band together to survive a 5 hour siege.
About: I’m going to tell you why this was number two on the list. Because even if you didn’t love it, you could see it as a movie. And that’s more important than you know. There are a lot of good ideas out there that don’t necessarily make good movies. This is something you can imagine making it to the big screen.
#1 (75 points) The Imagineer
Writer: Brendan Lee
Premise: The life story of one of the most creative minds of all time, Walt Disney.
About: Being a non-biopic guy, Brendan knew getting me to like this would be an uphill battle. And ultimately those biopic tropes did keep me from appreciating it as much as it probably deserved. But I’m so glad I reviewed it anyway because it’s connected with so many people. I know Brendan was offered a new job due to the The Imagineer review on Scriptshadow, and maybe this number one all time Amateur Scriptshadow ranking will lead to even more success. Congrats Brendan! Your peers have spoken. :)
And that’s it my friends. Feel free to discuss! Also, for you amateur writers who placed or finished in the Top 5, many members have e-mailed me wishing to hear your follow-up stories. Where are the scripts now? Give us a breakdown of what’s happened since then. What’s next!? Also, if anyone wants to highlight a great professional script that not many people know about, please do so. Let’s find a few more gems and pull them out of the Hollywood gutter. Let’s put them in Development Heaven.