Thursday, August 4, 2011


Come all, come one, to the second half of the Reader Favorites List, the best unmade scripts out there voted on by you. Last week we did 1-25. Today, we’re doing 26-50. Since I didn’t originally know I was going to publish this group, I erased the points, but I remember all of them being relatively close. Here they are!

#50 Brad Cutter Ruined My Life Again
Writer: Joe Nussbaum
Premise: A successful business man is forced to relive his miserable teenage years when the cool kid from his high school is hired at his company.
About: I’m not sure what’s happening with this project. I know that Joe recently directed the Disney film, “Prom,” so he’s certainly in a position to push projects forward. But it may no longer be a priority of his. I still think with an ending change this could be a classic.

#49 Flight
Writer: John Gatins
Premise: An alcoholic pilot becomes a reluctant hero when he saves a crippled plane from certain catastrophe.
About: Wow, you guys are just a bunch of depressing little emos aren’t you? I was kinda shocked to see this on so many lists. It never scored a top spot, but consistently fell into people’s 8 and 9 holes. I suppose if addiction is a problem in your life, this script will probably resonate with you.

#48 Shimmer Lake
Writer: Oren Uziel
Premise: The aftermath of a bank robbery told backwards.
About: One of the few backwards-told stories where the backwards-ness isn’t just a gimmick. It’s not quite Memento. It’s more of a comedy. But it keeps you guessing until the end. An Austin Screenplay Contest winner. And a reminder that specs that play with time often do well in the spec marketplace.

#47 Pandora 
Writer: Karl Gajdusek
Premise: The residents of a small Texas town are shocked when 7 local residents are killed in a bank robbery gone wrong. Although the culprits are immediately captured, they are kidnapped from the local jail and held for ransom –- the town now has to buy back their killers –- and this is when things really start to go awry.
About: I’ll be honest. I didn’t even know what this one was. Thank God when I checked the archives, I learned that I hadn’t read it, but rather Roger had.

#46 – Kashmir
Writer: D.B. Weiss
Premise: Three ex-mercenaries stumble upon information concerning the whereabouts of the world's most wanted terrorist. They journey into Kashmir, the dangerous and disputed territory between two nuclear powers in order to claim the $50 million bounty on the terrorist's head.
About: Here’s another one I still haven’t read. But I remember when it first came out as a spec. People were going nuts over it. I guess it’s another one of those titles I can’t get past. Like Sunflower or that other script I reviewed recently whose title is so forgettable I’m forgetting it right now. So this script is good then?

#45 – Maggie
Writer: John Scott 3
Premise: A high school girl has been contaminated with the zombie virus. However, in this treatment of the zombie dilemma, the change takes months to complete.
About: Ah yes, one of the more controversial scripts on the site this year. A zombie movie where the main character lays in a bed for the entire movie. Some thought it mundane. Others inspiring. It was definitely a different take on the zombie genre. And I’m still not sure if the thing ever sold (it originally sold and then the sale fell apart a few days later).

#44 – At The Mountains Of Madness
Writers: Guillermo Del Toro and Matthew Robbins
Premise: In the early 20th Century, a group of Arctic Explorers head off to Antarctica to look for a lost boat. What they find instead is too horrifying to grasp.
About: At The Mountains Of Madness may be looked at in future years as the project that changed the game. The script was really good. The film had Del Toro directing, James Cameron producing, and Tom Cruise starring, and still the studio got cold feet. You know it’s bad when Hollywood’s favorite source for mining movies – pre-existing material, isn’t good enough anymore. Then again, James Cameron did produce Sanctum, which runs neck and neck with “Skyline” as the worst screenplay of the year.

#43 – Winter’s Discontent
Writer: Paul Fruchbom
Premise: A sexually frustrated widower moves into a retirement community with one objective in mind: to get laid.
About: I love Dan Fogelman but Last Vegas doesn't hold a candle to Winter’s Discontent, clearly the number one “old fogey” script floating around Hollywood at the moment. As far as I’ve heard, I don’t know if they have a single actor attached to this yet. I mean seriously, how many good projects are out there for 70 year olds? Whoever’s producing this needs to step on the gas.

#42 – The Mighty Flynn
Writer: Lorene Scafaria
Premise: After a cruel heartless efficiency expert gets fired, he meets a strange 16 year old girl who unexpectedly helps him turn his life around.
About: Yes, it’s the script I went ga-ga over and put in my own Top 10. How dare you bastards banish it to Number 42. We’s gonna have words I say. While Flynn has been blacklisted (in the bad way) ever since Up In The Air came out, I still contend it would be a better movie. The characters are more interesting and there’s a lot more heart. And opium.

#41 – Cylinder
Writer: Jared Romero
Premise: Seven teenagers head into the Louisiana forest to celebrate a birthday. But when one of them is accidentally killed, the rest must figure out what to do with the body before the night is up.
About: When Cylinder was first reviewed on Scriptshadow, it had yet to be purchased. It has since been bought. For those who don’t know the story behind this script, I first read it in a screenplay competition I held before Scriptshadow. I thought it was great and through a friend of a friend, I was able to get it to Diablo Cody’s agent, who ended up signing Jerod. Very cool. Let’s hope this goes on to be made soon.

#40 – Will
Writer: Demetri Martin
Premise: What if the world was a play and all of us were the characters?
About: This is one of the few scripts which although I didn’t connect with it on an emotional level, I still gave it an impressive due to its inventiveness. It was just weird and different and out there. This is a great script to study if you consider your voice strange and unique and want to make the Black List.

#39 – Untitled Michael Mann/John Logan Project
Writer: John Logan
Premise: A noir drama that takes place on the old MGM lot in the 1930s. A private detective often hired by the studios to clean up its star’s messes, is hired to investigate whether a starlet murdered her husband.
About: A detective story that takes place on the old Wizard Of Oz sets does sound pretty cool. THAT’S a story that could only be told in Hollywood. Comparisons to L.A. Confidential are also good news. But I think this one’s been around for awhile. So I’m wondering why it all of a sudden is so hot. Can somebody provide an answer? Still haven’t read it myself.

#38 – Medieval
Writers: Mike Finch and Alex Litvak
Premise: The Dirty Dozen in medieval times.
About: I found Medieval soulless, ridiculous, plotless, and pretty entertaining. This goes against everything I preach on the site – it’s empty storytelling at its best – but what saves it is that you can imagine the movie. You can see these different fighters facing off, like a giant 17th Century Mortal Kombat fiery furious Fight Club orgy. This will be fun. Assuming your brain no longer works. McG at the helm for the win.

#37 – Fahrenheit 451
Writer: Frank Darabont
Premise: In a dystopian future, firefighters start fires instead of put them out.
About: Ah yes, who can forget my rant against this script due to its inclusion of….ROBOT DOGS. Darabont’s an amazing writer but I’ve never seen a script set in the future feel so dated. There’s no internet in this world. There never HAS been an internet! I don’t know how we’re supposed to wrap our heads around that. It’s like pretending that nothing over the past 20 years happened. I don’t get the love for this.

#36 – Better Living Through Chemistry
Writers: David Posamentier & Geoff Moore
Premise: A pharmacist whose wife regularly questions his masculinity starts an affair with a tortured trophy wife, who encourages him to explore the “fruits” of his profession.
About: Of all the scripts trying to dethrone American Beauty as the de facto “secrets of suburbia” King, this one probably comes closest. It takes some wild chances what with turning its main character into a crazed self-medicating maniac, and has a hell of an ending. Still wondering what the hell Judi Dench is doing in it though. I guess Entourage has ensured that every movie will now be populated with a celebrity cameo.

#35 – Dead Loss
Writers: Josh Baizer and Marshall Johnson
Premise: A crew of crab fisherman rescue a drifting castaway with a mysterious cargo.
About: Every thriller these days seems to take place in some predictable or uninspired location. This one takes place on a crab-fishing boat. It’s tense. It’s raw. It’s got non-stop thrills. This is one of those rare spec scripts that is a movie from the very first page. It needs to be made pronto.

#34 – I Wanna ____ Your Sister 
Writer: Melissa Stack
Premise: When his sister joins him at the New York Stock Exchange as an intern, Drew thinks it’s going to be the best summer ever – until he realizes that every single guy at the company wants to _____ his sister.
About: You try to get away from the flashiest title ever to hit the spec market, but you can’t. I think this is on the list due to the sheer number of people who have read it due to its title. Word is that it’s now been re-set in college, which isn’t a terrible idea since it’s a more relatable situation. Whether the new writers executed that premise though is anyone’s guess.

#33 – Pawn Sacrifice
Writer: Steve Knight
Premise: The life story of chess legend Bobby Fischer leading up to his historic world championship match against Boris Spassky.
About: I’m shocked that so many people like this. There must be a lot of screenwriting chess fans out there. I still think our hero looks like a total whiney douchebag at the end of the story, refusing to play unless the rest of the game could be moved. So the lesson here is what? Win by whining? Someone help me out here.

#32 – Imagine
Writer: Dan Fogelman
Premise: A lost letter written to him by his idol, John Lennon, inspires an aging musician to change his life.
About: (Spoiler) Double cancer-itis is still my big beef with Imagine. But it still shows us what Fogelman does best – write comedies with heart. And not write comedies where the only laughs come from comedian-of-the-moments hamming it up for the camera. Whether that style will land with audiences is yet to be determined. Crazy Stupid Love did okay but not great in its opening weekend. But Imagine has a much better hook. So we’ll see how it goes.

#31 – Prisoners
Writer: Aaron Guzikowski
Premise: When his daughter and her friend are kidnapped and the police fail to solve the crime, a father takes matters into his own hands.
About: Million dollar spec baby. Prisoners is supposed to be the next Seven (even though the plot is totally different). But I’m still not sure what’s going on with the thing. There was that weird two week period where Whalberg was attached and then Bale was attached and then they were both attached, and then they both left and then some director came on, then they both came on again. Is this still moving forward? Can someone shed a little light on Prisoners? I vaguely remember Antoine Fuqua being involved?

#30 – Shrapnel
Writer: Evan Daugherty
Premise: Two war veterans play a deadly game of cat and mouse up in the mountain wilderness.
About: Lots of votes for this one. I had no idea it was so popular. My question is, is this the right Shrapnel? I coulda swore there was another project out there called Shrapnel that I haven’t read yet. If that’s the case, this entry may be Shrapnel Squared. A combined Shrapnel. A double dose of Shrapnelopia.

#29 – Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close
Writer: Eric Roth (based on the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer)
Premise: A young boy goes on a journey through New York City to find the truth about how his father, who disappeared in 9/11, died.
About: Of all the scripts on this list, I’m thinking this one has the best chance for Oscars. Man does it tug at the tear ducts. The only problem with it is that it’s too long in its current state. Roth loves writing long so if he can get to the story a little faster, this could be awesome.

#28 – Sunflower
Writer: Misha Green
Premise: Two women are held hostage in a prison-like farmhouse.
About: Since it landed on the Black List, a new script was commissioned with new writers but after developing it extensively, Friedkin, the director, decided to ditch it. So Sunflower is looking for a new field to grown it. Any takers?

#27 – My Mother’s Curse
Writer: Dan Fogelman
Premise: A struggling entrepreneur takes his mother on a cross-country roadtrip to reunite with an old flame.
About: You guys LOVED My Mother’s Curse. So much love for this one I’m shocked. I mean I thought it was a pretty decent road trip movie. Definitely different. But there must be a lot of mama’s boys out there cause this killed in the voting.

#26 – Home
Writer: Adam Alleca
Premise: A paranoid delusional man is left on house arrest out in the middle of the woods.
About: I’ve learned from sources VERY close to the project that Alleca turned in a new draft of this that’s supposed to be even better than the one we all read. Now whether that pushes the project on its way, I don’t know. But I still think this guy’s one of the more talented “unknown” writers out there. I’m betting he starts making a splash soon.

Thoughts?  Where's Babe In The Woods?