Crazy, wild eyed, off the wall are just a few terms people would use to describe Nicolas Cage. His style of performance is like no other actor on this planet. He says lines that are just plain normal yet they make you question why he’s said them in that way.
An actor that has divided critics and general movie goers’ opinions for the past 30 years, Nic Cage has been a main stay of Hollywood, being in some of the greatest pieces of cinema ever produced.
You ask anyone on the street or any film lover about Nicolas Cage and they’ll say “What? The guy from Ghost Rider, Bangkok Dangerous and The Wicker Man?” “He Sucks” Well, people may just remember the recent bad decisions made by Cage but back in the early 1980’s to the mid 2000’s he was hot property and here are 10 reasons why.
10. Bringing out the Dead
This underrated film directed by Martin Scorsese shows what life is like to be working in an industry which is continually thankless and everything you do is taken for granted. The industry in question is ambulance driving and being a paramedic.
Cage gives a stunning performance as Frank Pierce, an overworked ambulance driver constantly reliving the same old routine night after night whilst being haunted by the ghosts of the people who couldn’t be saved. The contrasting characters are very well played out, such as Larry (played by John Goodman) who is the complete opposite to Frank. He takes a very unhealthy look at “life in the old meat wagon”, constantly telling Frank that he needs to relax.
This film has a really good supporting cast including Tom Sizemore, Ving Rhames and Patricia Arquette. Cage again makes us relate to a character, we’ve all had to work long hours and even when we finish those long hours, we dream we’re still there. You can see the emotional anguish in his eyes from shot to shot and that’s why this is truly a must watch piece of Cage cinema.
It tears in to the very soul of what working in an industry you once loved but now despise can do to you. It’s all about getting stuck in a rut and realising life isn’t perfect and you can’t help everyone.
9. Bad Lieutenant
Where to begin with this ridiculously messed up amazing piece of cinema? Cage plays Terrence Donnaghue, a corrupt New York detective with a drug and gambling addiction. Whilst trying to find the murderer of five immigrants, Donnaghue has his own demons to face.
Cage looks as though he’s in his element with this character and that easily comes across. Again with a very two sided performance, Cage really pushes the boundaries of his weirdness. This is Cage at his best when it comes to the overacting stakes. This move is bizarre at best and is often difficult to follow. It’s almost so off the wall and different to most of Cage’s other outings around that time that it sticks out from the crowd. Although this film is a remake to the 1992 Harvey Keitel movie of the same name, it really does stand up well.
8. Matchstick Men
One of the greatest con artist movies of the past 20 years, Matchstick Men will have you laughing until the point of tears. It’s not really meant to be a comedy, there are some seriously dark tones in this movie, yet Sam Rockwell and Nicolas Cage seem to be having the time of their lives in this movie and you’ll certainly have the time of yours watching it.
Cage once again is in his element here, playing someone with schizophrenia. Even though he is the bad guy you end up rooting for, Roy Waller and Frank Mercer (Cage and Rockwell) play two con-men who are about to pull off one of the biggest heists of their careers until one day there is a knock at the door and who is it? Well, it’s Roy’s teenage daughter Angela (played by Alison Lohman) who he has never met. She wants to be with her daddy and this then puts a halt on their whole operation. Waller is also suffering from stress and a nervous twitch that he cannot contain.
Cage has a way about him when playing certain characters especially bad guys in good situations. The movie had very good critical acclaim and once again was a light amongst the darkness of some of Cage’s other choices at that time.
Birdy is possibly one of the most beautifully told pieces of war based cinema ever to grace the screens. The story centres around two friends, Birdy and Al Columbato (played by Matthew Modine and Nicolas Cage). Both grew up together and enlisted in the army together.
Columbato is badly injured and sent to hospital and Birdy suffers from a massive case of post-traumatic stress disorder. Birdy had always been obsessed about birds and always wondered what it would be like to be one, this really comes to fruition after Birdy was injured on duty.
Birdy wakes up in the hospital and then starts to really believe he is a bird. His best friend Columbato comes to visit him on a regular basis, begging him to speak to him and be the friend he once had. There were two alternatives, you either start to speak or you are sectioned in to a mental institute for the rest of your life.
Cage’s performance is second to none in this movie, he cares so much about Modine’s character and you can really see childhood friendship coming across. This will bring you to the point of tears and Cage gives every acting level possible to this role. This isn’t really a war film as such but it does touch on the dramatic after-effects of war. This film really shows what having a best friend is all about.
This is one of Cage’s earliest performances and it really showed us that this guy is going to make it big someday. Cage was 19 years old when he played this role and he acted his heart out. Why it wasn’t an Oscar nominee still puzzles people to this day.
6. Raising Arizona
The Coen brothers have a pretty good hit rate when it comes to black comedy and Raising Arizona is no exception. Nicolas cage plays H.I., an ex con who lives with his wife Ed who is an ex-cop (played by Holly Hunter) who is desperate to have a baby. They’ve tried everything but never have any luck, so what does H.I do? He steals one from a wealthy businessman.
What could possibly go wrong? They start to raise their new stolen child as their own, but just when things start to go right, a hit man is hired to kill H.I and get the baby back no matter what. Without giving too much of the plot away, this film is possibly one of the most hilarious of its generation.
A world apart from most other 80’s comedies there are no teenagers with issues anywhere. Cage is simply hilarious and keeps you giggling right from the beginning. He really showed us that he can do slapstick just as good as the next guy.
Cage is superb from start to finish and like most Coen brothers films, the ensemble cast really keep the pace going including such actors as John Goodman and William Forsythe.