By Bill Dudley

It was quite a year for movies in 2015.  And with the Oscars coming up on Sunday, February 28th, I rank my top 15 movies of the year:

15. JURASSIC WORLD: The fourth installment of an engaging series of films that features dinosaurs in the starring role. Sharing the billing this time are Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard and young Nick Robinson. It became the second highest grossing film of 2015, and the biggest of the franchise. You can bet there will be another one coming, probably in 2018.

14. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD: Producer/Director George Miller has been making “Mad Max” films since 1979. With apologies to Mel Gibson, the fourth in the series may have been the very best. In a very creative plot twist, Charlize Theron heads a predominantly female cast, that also includes Tom Hardy from another 2015 blockbuster, ”The Revenant.” The futuristic theme hopefully will remain just fiction, because it is built around the savage behavior of human beings searching for not just fuel, but water.

13. THE HATEFUL EIGHT: Controversial director Quentin Tarantino scores once again with a strong cast of motley characters set in the post Civil War West. Much like his last major effort “Django Unchained,” this one packs a deep punch at the very end. Characters are fully developed in the first 2/3 of the film, and NONE of them are even remotely respectable. Samuel l. Jackson is outstanding in his portrayal of of a war hero turned bounty hunter. Kurt Russell may (or may not be) his friend. Jennifer Jason Leigh gives the best performance of her career as”Daisy” who just may be the worst of the 8. A great score by veteran Ennio Morricone adds to the tension. This is one to see on the big screen in 70 millimeter, as the background is both gorgeous and threatening.

12.  ALL THINGS MUST PASS: THE TOWER RECORDS STORY: The now vacant building on Sunset makes me sad. “Tower Records” was THE place to shop for your favorite music, whether you were Elton John, or kid from Valencia or Compton. Tom Hanks son Colin loved Tower so much he spent the better part of 7 years making a documentary about it. Founder Russ Solomon is featured, as well as many long-time employees.  “Tower Records” branched out from the corner of a drugstore at 16th & Broadway in Sacramento, to a worldwide enterprise. Record stores are like barber shops. A place to hang with your peers, and people you have never met that you may have something in common with. Every music fan should see this. Few record stores survive today, but the ones who do have a very loyal clientele of all ages. Vinyl records are making a huge comeback, primarily with younger people.

11. CREED: Sylvester Stallone stated he “did not want to gamble on himself” a 7th time for the “Rocky” character. The first film won “Best Picture of 1976.” Three consecutive sequels told Rocky’s stories very well. “Rocky 5” was a big disappointment to the studio, his fans, and to Stallone himself. A partial redemption came with “Rocky Balboa” in 2006. ”Creed” however is not really a Rocky story. The central character is the son of Rocky’s first opponent in the first film. Michael B. Jordan (“Fruitvale Station”),gives both a strong and compelling performance of “Adonis Johnson”, who (as a child) doesn’t even know who his late father was. Jordan just received an NAACP Image Award. Rocky is such an iconic character, Stallone has been deservedly nominated for “Best Supporting Actor”, Jordan should have been nominated for Best Actor. Both were backed by strong performances by Phylicia Rashad as Adonis’ mother, and Tessa Thompson as his girlfriend. Even though there is a 40 year age difference, Stallone and Jordan have a tight bond as mentor and protege. Mutual respect and love are the glue that keeps these two together, as a makeshift family dealing with the challenges of both their lives.

More coming soon!

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