Lionsgate has finally released the trailer for last year’s Sundance pickup The Winning Season, starring Sam Rockwell. The film, directed by James C. Strouse (Grace is Gone), tells the story of an alcoholic schlub (Rockwell) who gets a shot at redemption by coaching the local high school girls basketball team. Hit the break for the trailer itself and my thoughts.
I remember hearing a lot about this film after it premiered at Sundance, with the main buzz about Rockwell’s performance. Lionsgate picked it up with the intention of giving it a late fall release, and than it just sat on the shelf. I am not sure why it wasn’t released in 2009, obviously it is getting harder and harder to release indie films, but this seems pretty accessible.
I am still really looking forward to the film but I have to say that the trailer is probably selling the film a bit short. Everything I have heard suggests it is a dark comedy and not the wacky Bad News Bears slapstick comedy that is on display in the trailer. The most common comparison is Half Nelson meets Hoosiers by way of Bad News Bears. It even stars Half Nelson vet Shareeka Epps in what looks like on the surface to be a similar role. The supporting cast is excellent, with Rob Corrdry, Emma Roberts, Epps, and Rooney Mara (the future Lisbeth Salander?). While this role is not much of a stretch for Rockwell, he played a recovering alcoholic in the excellent Snow Angels, he always finds ways to surprise me and I look forward to seeing what he will do with this character.
Before directing Grace is Gone, Strouse wrote the indie dramedy Lonesome Jim, a film that also starred Casey Affleck and one that also had subplot involving girls basketball. My guess is that the film will have a similar feel to the later.