Friday Night Lights / The Express
H.G. Bissinger's best-selling true-life account of a few months in the life of a high-school football team comes to the screen in this adaptation written and directed by Peter Berg. Odessa, TX, is an oil town in the western part of the state that's home to the Permian High School Panthers, the football team with the best winning record in the state. Odessa is a town with more than its share of problems; the decline of the oil business in Texas has set the city's economy into a tailspin, and racial tensions still erupt into violence on occasion. But football is the one thing that brings all the people of Odessa together, and on Friday nights every fall, as many as 20,000 people fill Permian's football stadium to watch Coach Gary Gaines (Billy Bob Thornton) and his boys try to lead the team to victory. As Gaines works to build a winning team in a town where victory is prized above all else, however, his players struggle through the emotional trials common to any teenager and ponder the fact that there is little future in their hometown...and that a championship season can be as much a burden as a triumph. Friday Night Lights also stars Lucas Black, Derek Luke, Jay Hernandez, and country singer-turned-actor Tim McGraw.