Director: Peter Berg
Stars: Billy Bob Thornton, Jay Hernandez, Derek Luke, Garrett Hedlund, Lucas Black, Tim McGraw, Connie Britton, Amber Heard
Lesson Learned: Life's not easy, but it's certainly much, much sweeter when there's an enormous championship trophy nearby.
In light of the recently ended TV series Friday Night Lights, one of the most simultaneously beloved and neglected small-screen programs of the last decade, it's easy to forget that it all started with director Peter Berg's wonderful 2004 stirring adaptation of H.G. Bissinger's stellar book about of a real-life, overachieving high school football team in a small, economically depressed, racially divided Texas town).
The story's the same: A well-meaning high school football coach (in the movie: Billy Bob Thornton) and his dedicated band of pigskin players try to win a championship as the athletes cope with various personal dilemmas. Whereas the similarly angled Varsity Blues handled its subject matter with more goofs than gravitas, Friday Night Lights benches comic relief in favor of rousing in-game action scenes and stone-faced, heartfelt moments of thick character drama. A real cinematic touchdown.