The Winning Season

Director: James C. Strouse
Screenwriters: James C. Strouse

Institute History

  • 2009 Sundance Film Festival


James Strouse, who brought Grace Is Gone to Sundance in 2007, where it won the dramatic Audience Award and the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award, once again displays his talent for storytelling—and his deft touch as a director—in this superbly wrought tale, The Winning Season. Sam Rockwell stars as an alcoholic ex-basketball star who is currently occupied busing tables. When he is handed the reins of a girl’s varsity team by the school’s principal, what ensues is tempestuous and trying for all concerned.

The course of this wonderfully heartfelt drama is both unexpected and full of the kind of rich oh-so-human moments that marked Strouse's earlier work; the result is a completely gratifying cinematic drama. The battles to be won or lost—of a coach and his team, of a father and a daughter, and of a man struggling with his demons—are complicated by the mundane, yet real, dilemmas of life. This seemingly ordinary basketball drama resonates with wit and truth, attitude and sharp dialogue, and perfectly toned performances. Rockwell is spot on with his depiction of the scruffy, conflicted coach/father/teacher, and Strouse’s work is full of humor and poignancy, insight and fun.

Strouse is a director who transforms the unexceptional into wry dialogues about our humanity. His effectiveness as a filmmaker marks him as one of the most talented of a new generation of American independents.

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details

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