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Movie Night – Top 10 movies of 2015 (Jan. 6, 2016 issue)

American Sniper – While this movie was technically released in 2014, it did not make its way to theaters in our area until early 2015. “American Sniper” is more than just a movie, it depicts the toll that war takes on both those in the military fighting for our freedom and their loved ones at home. Bradley Cooper’s performance as Chris Kyle was easily the best acting job of the year in the best movie of the year. Grade: A+
Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Speaking of movies that are more than just a movie, “The Force Awakens” was a cultural event not to be missed. The mystique and aura of the Star Wars franchise is reinvigorated in the sequel that is action-packed with state-of-the-art special effects. It will soon be the highest grossing movie of all time and it deserves all of the accolades it is receiving. Grade: A+
The Martian – Probably the biggest surprise of the year was “The Martian.” Based on the best-selling and equally-entertaining novel of the same name, Matt Damon dazzles as the funniest astronaut to grace the silver screen. Damon’s character is left for dead on Mars when the rest of his crew abandon him during a sand storm. Damon is a modern-day MacGyver using every bit of knowledge, spare parts, and ingenuity he has to survive until NASA can bring him home. Grade: A
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation – The movies in the Mission Impossible franchise are known for their action and pushing the boundaries to their furthest limits when it comes to crazy stunts for Tom Cruise. What sets “Rogue Nation” apart from the other movies in the series is that the story is excellent. The plot brings real drama and intrigue while also providing the insane stunts that everyone loves. Grade: A
Creed – For everyone out there who thought Sylvester Stallone was a washed-up has-been of an actor (including me), Stallone gives the performance of his life as a Rocky Balboa who is no longer physically capable of fighting in “Creed.” Stallone shines as the trainer to Apollo Creed’s illegitimate son in the best film of the franchise since the original “Rocky” almost 30 years ago. Grade: A
Sicario – While “Sicario” is not a movie for everyone, fans of intense dramas who don’t shy away from a little bloodshed will love this movie. Emily Blunt portrays an FBI agent thrust into the war on drugs by hunting prominent figures in the Mexican cartels. Grade: A
Bridge of Spies – Tom Hanks shines in this Cold-War epic about a regular insurance attorney who is thrust in the middle of the silent war between the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1950s culminating in a trip to East Berlin. Grade A
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 – The final episode of the post-apocalyptic saga is the best in the series by a wide margin. Katniss Everdeen ends the rebellion that she started to form a free society of what remains of the United States after a devastating war. Grade: A
Furious 7 – 2015 was the year of the sequel. “Furious 7” is another sequel that out-paced all of its predecessors in every aspect. What should be the final installment of the series (despite rumors of another film) is a fitting send-off to fallen star Paul Walker. Grade: A
Jurassic World – The good news for “Jurassic World” is that it claimed the highest domestic opening weekend of all time. The bad news is that it held the title for only six months. Regardless, the movie is a rollicking good time from start to finish with very little time in between to take a breath. Grade: A