Peter Berg’s Friday Night Lights is the football picture as if it were a combat film. These high school gridiron warriors are like battle-ready troops, ready to sacrifice it all in the name of glory. This is one of the best sports movies ever made, totally riveting, just as well done in the small details as it is in the grand scope of the sport and the society that it’s reflecting. Billy Bob Thornton beautifully underplayed the role of Head Coach, letting the colorful characters that make up the Permian Panthers do the heavy lifting in terms of dramatic consequence, though he’s not without his moments of explosive fury or deep introspection. Berg’s semi-regular cinematographer Tobias Schliessler shot the hell out of this movie, opting for a washed out color palette to match his gritty yet slick aesthetic; the film also has some of the best choreographed football action ever put on film. And true to the real-life story that this film covers, in the end, it’s not about winning and losing, but about putting it all out there in everything that you do, and picking up the pieces if it doesn’t land your way, always ready for the next challenge. The musical score by Explosions in the Sky is transcendent, all of the young actors and actresses nail their roles on and off the field, and the dialogue by co-scripters Berg and David Aaron Cohen has a believable quality that rings true at every moment. Fantastic production design and engrossing editing round out the tech package. When it comes to sports films, I hold this one in extra-high regard. Berg’s cousin H.G. Bissinger wrote the best selling book that the film is based on. Friday Night Lights would become a respectable box office grosser, and would be followed by one of the most critically acclaimed and dramatically involving TV shows of all time.