“The Blacklist” 2020 Cover- Eddie Opara’s Team at Pentagram

This piece was featured as the cover for the 2020 edition of “The Black List”. The company under the same name commissioned Eddie Opara’s team at Pentagram to create a cover for their annual list of  “the most liked unproduced screenplays of the year” (“The Black List”, Pentagram). The cover was going to be very important for “The Black List” that year considering all that went on during 2020. With the combination of the Corona Pandemic, the “Black Lives Matter” Movement, and the presidential election, it was imperative that the design reflect the impactful and intense year it represented. “The Black List” also thought the naming of their company contributed to the BLM Movement as “…the name was originally a nod to Leonard’s Black heritage and to the writers who were barred in the Hollywood blacklist of the McCarthy era” (“The Black List”, Pentagram). This cover needed to be a big deal just as 2020 was a big deal to so many people, and that is what Opara and his team set out to create.

The designers looked to the structure of “The Black List” when drafting their plan. The list is created by counting the results of a survey given out to film and production personnel. The designers wanted to reference this system of collecting votes for films in their design by incorporating multiple methods of counting that all represented the year 2020.

The piece demonstrates four different counting systems and symbols. Roman numerals can be seen, in a style inspired by Jean-Michel Basquiat, as the large MMXX to equal 2020. An abacus that adds up to the year is in red as the background circles. Connected to those are little 2s that serve two purposes. Not only do they create 20s when combined with the filled-in bubbles of the abacus, but according to Opara’s team, they also represent tiny, abstract eyeglasses. Finally, the Mayan numbers for 2020 are displayed in the top right corner. The eye motif from before is continued here as the Mayan zero happens to resemble an eye; the message being to, “[look] back over the year and forward to the next” (“The Black List”, Pentagram). Opara and his team made sure that this cover was loud and bold and showed the film space through color and symbolism the impact that was 2020.



“The Black List.” Pentagram, 2020, www.pentagram.com/work/the-black-list/story, Accessed 6 March 2021.

Images from:

“The Black List.” Pentagram, 2020, www.pentagram.com/work/the-black-list, Accessed 6 March 2021.