A while ago I started writing a post about Nicolas Cage. I’d been on IMDB and noticed he’d just turned 50, and as I scrolled through his vast filmography, I started thinking… this man is an enigma. He’s at once one of the most talented and most awful actors I’ve ever seen. He’s prolific and unpredictable, not to mention over the top. But most of all, he’s almost always bloody good fun.
I should probably explain that when I say “top 10” I’m not restricting myself to Cage’s best films or his best performances. I’m talking his top 10 best, worst, most outrageous, his most Nicolas Cage roles and films. I’m sure anyone who’s ever seen him in action will know what I mean.
10. Guarding Tess
I’ll kick off with one of the least Nicolas Cage Nicolas Cage movies I’ve ever seen. The film sees Cage meet his match in the form of Shirley MacLaine. He’s the secret service agent who heads the security team tasked with looking after the former first lady, played by MacLaine.
9. The Rock
Sean Connery and Nicolas Cage in a film together? Yes please! OK, so it might be a bit stupid but it’s quite good fun.
8. Con Air
Never one to let a little thing like a ludicrous plot stop him, Cage headed up this starry 1997 action flick about flight that is taken over by a motley assortment of convicts. Cage’s Cameron Poe is a convict himself, and former US Ranger who finds himself on board the flight when the criminals take over. Hilarity ensues. Well, not hilarity, exactly. But its fun nonetheless.
I watched this again recently and if I’m honest, I found it total bore. But! Cage’s turn as a writer struggling to adapt an unadaptable book, is absolutely brilliant. As for the scenes where Cage is on-screen as both the protagonist and his twin brother? It shows just how talented he is.
6. Leaving Las Vegas
If you needed more evidence that Big Nic is an actor of merit, I refer you to number six on my list: Leaving Las Vegas. Bleak and depressing as it is, Cage was at the top of his game. It also got him his only Oscar.
What an utterly mental concept for an action film: FBI agent undergoes a face swapping operation with a master criminal in order to avert an attack that would destroy the whole of L.A. What in the name of arse?!
4. Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans
Sitting alongside these cinematic masterpieces is a smattering of stand out performances. The treat in the bottom of the cereal packet. The salt sachet in the bag of Salt ‘n’ Shake crisps. If you want to see Cage on excellent form, for he can sometimes pull it out of the bag, I recommend you try Werner Herzog’s 2009 remake of Bad Lieutenant where Cage, who’s always done a good line in maniacs, plays the drug addicted detective with questionable morals.
Several years ago my flat-mate at the time accidentally ordered a DVD from LoveFilm called Next. I say ‘accidentally’ because she couldn’t remember adding it to her rental list, and when we saw the description on the cover, we couldn’t imagine why the hell she’d have picked it.
The blurb on IMDB doesn’t do it justice:
“A Las Vegas magician who can see into the future is pursued by FBI agents seeking to use his abilities to prevent a nuclear terrorist attack.”
It fails to highlight the horrendous rug, the disproportionate youth and beauty of Mr Cage’s love interest (Jessica Biel) or the catastrophically outlandish nature of the plot. Now, as dreadful films go, it’s really quite good fun. I, for one, had a whale of a time shouting at the screen each time something ridiculous, unbelievable or simply stupid as hell happened.
2. The Wicker Man
Now, before you start shouting, hear me out. This truly abysmal, cringe-inducingly awful and totally unnecessary remake of The Wicker Man is in here because Cage is so very Cagey in it. It totally sucks. And yet I watched it to the end and I couldn’t say with any certainty that I’d never watch it again. To me, it’s the worst and that’s why it’s so good. It should never have been made, and it definitely shouldn’t have been made with Nicolas Cage, but I’m kind of glad it was.
1. Raising Arizona
I think I first saw him on late night TV in Raising Arizona, directed by the Coen Brothers and co-starring Holly Hunter. Cage is an absolute scream as H.I. McDunnough, an ex-con who marries a straight-laced ex-cop (Hunter), and then help themselves to someone else’s baby when. Cage is manic yet sympathetic as McDunnough, not something that’s easy to pull off.
Perhaps the best thing about Nicolas Cage is that he’s so prolific, which means there are still loads of his films I haven’t seen yet. I’ll leave you now, with your own thoughts about the man that is Nicolas Cage, and a little reward for sticking with me to the end… I give you, Nicolas Cage losing his shit…