Can you believe this was almost a Top 10? Okay, that’s not true but it’s a solid Top 5. Cage gets a lot of crap around here (especially from Fletch… there’s no pleasing that guy). The fact of the matter is that Cage is a very polarizing personality. I think most people are actually torn inside as to how they feel about him. We all love to hate him but also hate to love him. It’s no secret that Cage makes a LOT of crappy movies (as was perfectly illustrated by my colleague Heather a few weeks back) but he can also bring it too. When Cage finds success, it’s by one of two methods. He either turns in a surprise, tempered, solid performance or finds a role that suits his bat-shit-insane personality. You’ll find both on this list. Enjoy:
5. FACE/OFF (CASTOR TROY & SEAN ARCHER).
Would you believe that this performance actually changed some people’s lives? While this is a silly action movie with an unbelievably ridiculous premise, Cage is actually doing a lot of great stuff in it. He’s perfect as the main antagonist (Castor Troy) but also does a great job mirroring John Travolta’s protagonist (Sean Archer). On top of that, at one point, he’s actually Cage playing Travolta playing Cage. It’s a bit confusing and a bit meta but it’s frickin’ fun to watch!
4. ADAPTATION (CHARLIE & DONALD KAUFMAN).
This one stands out to me because it’s so unlike anything else Cage has ever done. Not only that but he plays identical twins and manages to give each such a unique and interesting personality. On top of that, he does so playing against himself (or a tennis ball at the time).
3. KICK ASS (BIG DADDY).
Cage is actually a huge Fanboy. At one point, I believe he had one of the most valuable comic book collections in the world. His dream superhero role, playing Superman for Tim Burton, fizzled out. He took, what probably felt like, one last shot at playing a superhero in the if not awful then forgettable Ghost Rider. Then, this little gem came along. Cage gives an awesome performance by channeling the ghost of Adam West’s Batman in what was a severely underrated performance.
2. RAISING ARIZONA (H.I. McDUNNOUGH).
Who knew that all of Cage’s idiosyncrasies would fit so nicely into the world of the Coen Brothers? Besides the Coens, that is. H.I. is probably my all time favorite Cage character… those of you Coen fans that have pushing off seeing this film need to rectify that A.S.A.P. … but it isn’t his best performance. Close but no cigar!
1. LEAVING LAS VEGAS (BEN SANDERSON).
Sanderson is by far Cage’s best turn on the big screen. It’s one of those things where you look over at the person you’re watching this film with and say: Holy Shit! Did you know Nicolas Cage could actually act? I’m not the only one who noticed either as this role actually earned Cage his sole Oscar. One that I actually feel was well deserved… and that doesn’t happen very often with the academy!
So, what are some of your favorite Nicolas Cage performances?