Every December since 2005, The Black List releases its annual list of screenplays that were rejected and (almost) never became a movie.

These lists are created with the help of film executives in the industry. Out of 1000, only one-third of movies get a theatrical release. Here is a list of such 55 brilliant movies that were almost shelved.

1. The Prestige 

Directed by Christopher Nolan, this science fiction psychological thriller revolves around two rival magicians from London during the 19th century. The movie is based on the 1995 novel of the same title by Christopher Priest.

2. Pursuit Of Happyness 

The storyline of the movie revolves around a single father who refuses to give up, as he struggles to create a better life for himself and his son. With heartfelt performances and an intriguing story, the movie was nominated for Best Performance By An Actor In A Leading Role at the Oscars.

 3. There Will Be Blood 

Loosely based on the 1927 novel Oil! by Upton Sinclair, the movie centres around a silver miner-turned-oilman who is on a quest for wealth during the 19th century.

4. Zodiac 

The plotline of the movie revolves around a San Francisco cartoonist-turned-detective who is obsessed with a killer known as the ‘Zodiac Killer‘.

5. Blood Diamond 

This political war thriller focuses on a nation torn apart by the struggle between government loyalists and insurgent armies. Featuring Leonardo DiCaprio in the lead role, the movie is set during the Sierra Leone Civil War.

6. Eight Below 

Revolving around the three members of a scientific expedition who leave their dogs behind as they fend for their survival, this movie is a remake of the 1983 movie Antarctica. The movie features Paul Walker, Bruce Greenwood, Moon Bloodgood and Jason Biggs in lead roles.

7. Juno 

Revolving around a woman who makes an unusual decision after she faces an unplanned pregnancy, this coming-of-age comedy-drama bagged the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.

8. Babel 

The movie centres around a married couple who come on vacation to Morocco, touching off an interlocking story linking four different families.

9. Little Miss Sunshine 

This tragicomedy focuses on a family who takes a cross-country trip in their VW bus to get their young daughter into the finals of a beauty pageant. Premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, the movie was nominated for four Academy Awards and won two of them.

10. In Bruges 

This black comedy crime movie revolves around a guilt-stricken hitman who awaits orders from his cruel boss in Bruges after a job goes wrong. The movie features Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson as two hitmen and Ralph Fiennes as their infuriated boss.

11. Changeling 

The movie stars Angelina Jolie as a grief-stricken mother who is united with an impostor boy who she realizes is not her missing son. She is then labelled as an unfit mother and confined to a psychiatric ward when she explains the same to the police.

12. Seven Pounds 

The movie focuses on a man with a secret who embarks on a journey of redemption by changing the lives of seven strangers. Featuring Will Smith in the lead role, this movie is a must-watch for every drama lover.

13. Frost/Nixon 

This historical drama is based on the 2006 play of the same title by Peter Morgan. The movie is a dramatic retelling of the post-Watergate television interviews between a British talk-show host and a former president.

14. Slumdog Millionaire 

The movie revolves around a teenager from Mumbai who is accused of cheating on a television game show, when he surprises everyone by answering each question correctly. The movie was nominated for ten Oscars and bagged eight of them.

15. Valkyrie 

Set in Nazi Germany during World War II, this thriller portrays the assassination of Adolf Hitler on July 20, 1944 by German army officers and how they use the Operation Valkyrie national emergency plan to take control of the country.

16. Yes Man 

Loosely based on the 2005 book of the same title by Danny Wallace, this comedy movie revolves around a man who challenges himself to say ‘yes’ to everything.

17. Burn After Reading 

This black comedy crime movie follows a currently jobless CIA agent, who misplaces a disk containing mysterious information to two dishonest gym employees. Premiered at the Venice Film Festival, the movie features John Malkovich, Frances McDormand and Brad Pitt in lead roles.

18. The Fighter 

The storyline of the movie focuses on an inexperienced boxer who tries to escape the shadow of his troubled boxer half-brother to get his own shot at greatness. The movie was inspired by the 1995 documentary titled High On Crack Street: Lost Lives In Lowell.

19. The Social Network 

This biographical drama revolves around a Harvard student, who creates a social networking website but is later sued by the twins who claim that he stole their idea. Starring Jesse Eisenberg as founder Mark Zuckerberg, the movie received eight Oscar nominations and won three of them.

20. The King’s Speech 

This historical drama centres around the impromptu ascension of King George VI to the throne of the British Empire and how a speech therapist helps him to overcome his stammer. The movie received 12 Oscar nominations and subsequently won four of them.

21. Scott Pilgrim Vs The World 

Directed by Edgar Wright, the movie focuses on a slacker musician who needs to defeat his new girlfriend’s seven exes in a competition to win her heart. This romantic comedy is based on the graphic novel series Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O’Malley.

22. Source Code 

This science-fiction thriller follows a soldier who wakes up in someone else’s body and discovers that he is a part of a top-secret military operation, where he needs to find the bomber of a commuter train within 8 minutes.

 23. Death At A Funeral 

This black comedy revolves around a funeral ceremony that turns into a fiasco because of exposed family secrets. The movie is the remake of the 2007 British film of the same title. 

24. Hanna

Based on a teenage girl who is raised by her ex-CIA operative father to be an impeccable assassin, the movie features Saoirse Ronan and Eric Bana in lead roles.

25. Margin Call 

This financial thriller revolves around how people at an investment firm take extreme measures to control the damage when an analyst uncovers information, that could ruin their lives. 

26. Argo 

Set in the late ’70s, this historical drama-thriller revolves around six Americans, that are being held in Iran and a man working for the CIA, who has an elaborate scheme to make a fake movie to rescue them. The movie received seven nominations at the Academy Awards and won three of them.

27. Looper 

The storyline of this movie revolves around the present-day contract killers appointed by criminal groups from the future to terminate victims whom they sent back through time. This science-fiction action-thriller features Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Emily Blunt in lead roles. 

28. Life Of Pi 

The plot of the movie revolves around a man and how he is drifting in the Pacific Ocean on a lifeboat with a tiger, after surviving a shipwreck at the tender age of 16. In 2013, the movie bagged the Oscar for Best Visual Effects.

29. Prisoners 

This thriller centres around the kidnapping of two young girls followed by the search for their suspected abductor. Starring Hugh Jackman, the movie was chosen as one of the top ten films of the year 2013 by the National Board Of Review.

30. World War Z 

This pulse-pounding flick showcases the perseverance of humanity. Revolving around a man who travels across the world to stop a zombie pandemic, the film brings a solid performance by Brad Pitt.

31. The Impossible 

The plot of this gripping drama revolves around a traveller family in Thailand who are caught in the destruction and messy aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004. This disaster drama was inspired by the real-life experiences of María Belón, who survived the event with her husband and three kids.

32. Django Unchained 

This flick revolves around a freed slave who rescues his wife from a ruthless plantation owner with the help of a bounty hunter. The movie received five nominations at the Academy Awards.

33. American Hustle 

This black comedy movie revolves around two con artists, who are forced to set up a sting operation by an FBI agent on corrupt politicians. Along with a gripping storyline, the movie also has a stellar cast of Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Bradley Cooper.

34. Wolf Of The Wall Street 

The movie is based on the true story of how a rags-to-riches trader started with an OTC brokerage firm using fraudulent schemes but eventually becomes the main player on Wall Street. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio in the lead role, the movie was nominated for several awards including five at the Academy Awards ceremony.

35. The Imitation Game 

Featuring Benedict Cumberbatch, this historical drama focuses on a mathematical genius who attempts to crack the German Enigma code with help from fellow mathematicians. The movie received eight Oscar nominations and nine BAFTA nominations, along with several other nominations.

36. Spotlight 

Directed by Tom McCarthy, the movie features a stellar cast including Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, John Slattery and Stanley Tucci. Based on true events, the movie revolves around the Boston Globe, which uncovers the enormous scandal of child molestation.

37. Fault In Our Stars 

Revolving around two teenage cancer patients who commence a life-affirming journey to visit an antisocial author in Amsterdam, this coming-of-age romance movie was on top at the box office during its opening weekend. In 2020, Fox Star Studios released the official Hindi adaptation of the movie, Dil Bechara featuring Sushant Singh Rajput and Sanjana Sanghi.

38. Whiplash 

The plot of this movie revolves around a young drummer who enrols at a music conservatory. There, he is mentored by an abusive but perfectionist instructor who will stop at nothing until he realises his potential.

39. Edge Of Tomorrow 

Set in a futuristic world, this mind-bending fiction centres around an inexperienced soldier who is forced to fight aliens and dies, only to relive it and die several times. Featuring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt in lead roles, the movie is adapted from the 2004 Japanese novel All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka.

40. Selma 

Set in 1965, this historical drama revolves around Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s campaign for equal voting rights via a classic march from Selma to Montgomery in Alabama. The movie was nominated for Best Picture and bagged Best Original Song at the Academy Awards.

41. American Sniper 

The movie revolves around the deadliest marksman in US military history and how his duty tours take a heavy toll on his personal and family life. Loosely based on the book American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History by Chris Kyle, the movies stars Bradley Cooper in the lead role. 

42. The Revenant 

Set in the 1820s, the movie revolves around a frontiersman on a fur trading journey who fights for his existence after being attacked by a bear. Leonardo DiCaprio bagged his first Oscar for Best Performance By An Actor In A Leading Role for this movie.

43. I, Tonya 

This black comedy movie revolves around an ice skater who rises amongst the ranks at skating championships. Directed by Craig Gillespie, the movie stars Margot Robbie and Sebastian Stan in lead roles. 

 44. The Post 

Revolving around a woman who fights for the respect of a newspaper she owns, this historical political thriller stars Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks in lead roles.

45. Arrival 

Based on the 1998 short story Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang, the movie follows a linguist who works with the US army to communicate with extraterrestrial aliens who have arrived on Earth. 

46. Hell Or High Water 

This crime drama focuses on a divorced man and his ex-con older brother who carry out a series of bank robberies in order to save their family ranch. The movie was nominated for several awards, including four Oscar nominations. 

47. American Made 

Revolving around a pilot who becomes a drug smuggler for a cartel in the 1980s, the action-comedy movie stars Tom Cruise as the Baton Rouge pilot.

48. Manchester By The Sea 

The plot of the movie revolves around a depressed man who is asked to take care of his teenage nephew after the boy’s father dies. Directed by Kenneth Lonergan, the movie was listed as the top film of 2016 by the National Board Of Review.

49. Gifted 

Featuring Chris Evans in the lead role, the movie focuses on a man who is drawn into a custody battle for his intellectually gifted niece against her grandmother.

50. The Founder 

Based on McDonalds, this biographical drama follows a salesman who turns two brothers’ fast food eatery into the biggest restaurant business in the world. Directed by John Lee Hancock, the movie features Michael Keaton, Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch in lead roles.

51. Bohemian Rhapsody 

Based on the real-life story of the iconic British rock band Queen’s lead singer Freddie Mercury, the movie became the sixth-highest-grossing film of 2018 worldwide. The biographical musical drama received numerous honours, including four wins at the Academy Awards.

52. On The Basis Of Sex 

Based on the real-life story of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her struggle for equal rights, the movie showcases the initial cases of her historic career that lead to her nomination and confirmation as US Supreme Court Associate Justice.

53. Booksmart 

Revolving around two academic toppers who realize that they should have worked less and played more during their high school graduation, this coming-of-age buddy comedy was nominated at the 77th Golden Globe Awards.


54. Jojo Rabbit 

This comedy-drama revolves around a ten-year-old boy in Hitler’s army who finds out his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their attic. Starring Roman Griffin Davis and Scarlett Johansson, the movie is adapted from Christine Leunens’s 2008 book Caging Skies.

55. A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood 

Based on the true story of a real-life friendship between a television icon and a troubled journalist, the movie was chosen as one of the ten best films of the year by Time Magazine.

Which is your favourite movie?

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