At the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, Lionsgate acquired an enjoyable little indie sports drama called The Winning Season, directed by James C Strouse. We havent heard much about the film since. Lionsgate is planning to release the film in New York City and Los Angeles on September 3rd 2010, and has finally released poster artwork and an official movie trailer.

The movie stars Sam Rockwell as an asshole alcoholic busboy who is given a chance to coach his local girl’s high school varsity basketball team. He has a strained relationship with his daughter (Emma Roberts), and only gets to see her once a week. Rockwell has described the movie as Bad News Bears meets Half Nelson meets Hoosiers, and that is a very accurate comparison. You can read my short festival review here.

Hit the jump to watch the trailer and see the poster. Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.
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Sundance Movie Review: The Winning Season

At Sundance in 2005, I fell in love with a little movie called Lonesome Jim, which was directed by Steve Buscemi and starred Casey Affleck. The film wasn’t necessarily incredible, but the screenplay by newcomer James C Strouse really connected with me, even though my life is nothing similar to anything shown in the film itself. I connected to the authenticity behind the characters and the story. I told one of my friends at the time that Strouse was going to be a screenwriter in demand five years down the line.

Strouse decided to direct his next screenplay effort, 2007′s Grace is Gone, which was a Sundance hit, and a record breaking sale at the time. I really loved the film but felt that it was a bit too melodramatic. Not necessarily the screenplay, but some of the performances were a bit over the top. The fact that the film contained undertones of the Iraq war resulted in a disappointing box office return (it’s also worth mentioning that The Weinstein Co couldn’t sell shit to a manure factory). I think I wrote in my review that Strouse should probably stick to writing the scripts instead of directing them. Boy was I wrong.

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Sundance Video Clip: The Winning Season

James C. Strouse’s second feature film The Winning Season stars Sam Rockwell as an adult alcoholic misfit brought on to coach his local girl’s high school basketball team. Rockwell has described the movie as Bad News Bears meets Half Nelson meets Hoosiers. Emma Roberts, Rob Corddry, Shareeka Epps and Emily Rios co star. Festival director Geoffrey Gilmore calls the film “a completely gratifying cinematic drama marked by sharp dialogue and perfectly toned performances.” Watch the first clip from the film after the jump.
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The Winning Season Added to Sundance 2009 Line-Up

It’s not unusual for last minute selections to be added to the Sundance Film Festival line-up in the weeks leading up to the Park City Festival. Last year it was Hamlet 2, and this year it is screenwriter turned director James C. Strouse‘s second feature film The Winning Season (note: this news has been rumored elsewhere, but this is the first time Sundance has officially confirmed the report).

The film stars Sam Rockwell as an adult alcoholic misfit brought on to coach his local girl’s high school basketball team. Rockwell has described the movie as Bad News Bears meets Half Nelson meets Hoosiers. It’s worth mentioning that Strouse’s semi-autobiographical first screenplay Lonesome Jim involved a story line where Jim (played by Casey Affleck) has to take over his brother’s girls youth basketball team.

The film’s cast also includes Emma Roberts, Rob Corddry, Shareeka Epps and Emily Rios. Festival director Geoffrey Gilmore calls the film “a completely gratifying cinematic drama marked by sharp dialogue and perfectly toned performances.”

Rockwell’s Sci-fi Thriller Moon also premieres at the festival. Roberts’ Lymelife is also screening at the festival. The Strouse penned Lonesome Jim premiered at Sundance in 2005, and his directorial debut Grace is Gone played at the 2007 festival.

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