Nic Cage gets a bad rap. It seems too many kids today think he is a joke of an actor. That is as far away from the truth as you can possibly be. Yes, he has had some stinker roles, but that is bound to happen when you are in so many movies. There are a few reasons why he does so many films:
1) He is a major nerd. I mean he changed his name from Coppola (as in Francis Ford Coppola's nephew) to a comic book character's. So he wants to do movies like The Sorcerer's Apprentice and Season of the Witch, which most A-listers would avoid like the plague.
2) He got screwed over by taxes, agents, and wives. He has no money now, and besides selling off his life-long comic collection, he is doing as many movies as possible.
3) He won an Academy Award at a very young age and has plenty more critical acclaim. He is just having fun at this point.
People need to look past all the jokes made about Cage, and look at some of his better roles. If you do so then you'll see, and I'll even make a bold statement, Nic Cage is one of the best actors of our generation. He has had a long, and steadily solid career. He is still able to put out Four Star films, something so many actors can not say 20+ years later. Roger Ebert says it best: "He is unafraid to crawl out on a limb, saw it off and remain suspended in air." Actually, I have no idea what the hell he is saying. So here's my Top Ten Roles of Nicolas Cage.
Honorable Mention: as Ben Sanderson in Leaving Las Vegas
Cage won an Academy Award for playing a suicidal alcoholic who falls in love with a hooker in Las Vegas. I feel bad to say I have never seen this, and it would be unfair for me to put it on the list. But look at him, he's doing a choo-choo down the liquor aisle. I would give this an Oscar just by that picture.
#10 as Fu Manchu in Werewolf Women of the SS
Cage is such a great actor, he can carry a fake film. Why this couldn't be a real film in an era when Serious Shakey Cam Action Movie #216 and Generic CGI Happy Animals #4307 get green lit no problem. Granted, Machete was much better as a two and a half minute trailer. But Machete didn't have Cage somehow being random in a video with vampire nazi strippers.
#9 as David Spritz in The Weather Man
This was also better as a trailer. The ad went just like this: "People used to throw stuff at me because I got the weather wrong. Now I carry a bow around with me, and people stopped complaining." The movie was nothing like that sadly, but it was still a very heart touching story about a man who can predict the weather better than anyone else, but can't raise a family to save his life. He also still remains in the shadow of his father, Michael Caine, with whom Cage has the funniest and saddest interactions.
#8 as Big Daddy in Kick-Ass
Big Daddy was the ultra-violent, and only true, superhero in the world of Kick-Ass. While he scared bad guys in his Batmany suit, he was much more terrifying in his nerdy little sweater.
It is while under the guise of his secret identity that he teaches his daughter how to avoid bullets...by constantly shooting her.
#7 as Benjamin Gates in National Treasure
Cage played a treasure hunter bent on stealing the Declaration of Independence in this blockbuster. National Treasure was very similar to the Da Vinci Code, except with more sense and less stupidity. Cage uses his brain and his X-Files flashlight (he magically always has it) to solve some surprisingly well thought out (in the first movie anyway) puzzles. He also has family problems, which seems to be a theme in all of his movies.
#6 as Dr. Stanley Goodspeed in The Rock
The first and his best of his action movies, The Rock may be the best Stupid Action Movie of all time, rivaled only by Air Force One. Stupid Actions Movies -- which is not at all a bad label -- require three things: An evil terrorist organization that makes no sense whatsoever (here being Ed Harris holding an island hostage), lots of explosions (Michael Bay did direct this afterall), and most importantly, a catchphrase when they kill the main bad guy ("Do you like Elton John? I only bring that up because...you are the rocket man" *fires rocket*). Cage does play second fiddle here, but he is playing it to Sean Connery in his swan song. The nerdy Cage plays great contrast to the bad-ass James Bond, making this nearly a buddy-cop film, another great and forgotten film genre.
#5 as Cameron Poe in Con Air
His second of his action trilogy is better than Face/Off (probably #12 on this list), but not nearly as good as The Rock. But his role as a convict here gets the nod simply because of that hair. Wow.
#4 as Yuri Orlov in Lord of War
Cage (pictured right) plays an amalgamation of two real gun dealers in his mostly factual drama/comedy/action thing. Orlov is the world's second biggest gun dealer (Spoiler Alert! Number one is the United States Government) and he teaches us very important lessons in life, such as a French flag turned sideways can pass as a Dutch flag, and that gunpowder gives cocaine more of a kick. It is a very fascinating movie that is also very entertaining, and it makes you want to jump into the black market.
#3 as Charlie Kaufman and Donald Kaufman in Adaptation
What's better than Nicolas Cage? How about two Nicolas Cages? He does the opposite of what he did in Lord of War, and divided a real person into two. Cage plays the film's writer Kaufman as he works on his previous film, Being John Malkovich, when his fictional brother (also played by Cage) comes to mooch off him. There's meta on top of more meta here. Cage and his leading actress Meryl Streep were both nominated for Oscars, something which is mandatory for a Streep film, and Chris Cooper brought home the gold in a supporting role. Personally, I think Cage should have been up for both best actor and supporting actor.
#2 as H. I. McDunnough in Raising Arizona
Cage plays a lovable convict who steals children in one of the Coen Brothers' first flicks. Like most Coen movies, this is a bit hard to explain, and you just need to see it for yourself. But also like most Coen movies, it is very good, and it put both of them and Nic Cage on the map. Cage also infamously learned not to give the Coens filming advice. They must have really tore him a new one, because Cage has kept his mouth shut since and is now considered a great actor to work with.
#1 as The Bear in The Wicker Man
Not too many actors are man enough to dress up as a bear and run around punching people in the face, all the while fighting off THE BEEEEEES! Cage deserves much credit for his role in this soon to be cult classic, but not that much.
#1 (For Real) as Terrence McDonagh in Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans
From one cult director(s) to another, Warner Herzog has an equally weird take on Nic Cage. Even his character names are similar. Cage plays a Bad Lieutenant. He does drugs, he steals from the police station, he whores out his wife, he makes deals with gangsters, he bets on sports, and he bullies old ladies in nursing homes. In this film's most surreal scene, a coked up Cage imagines singing iguanas, and just sits there and laughs. Cage is full-out crazy in this film, yet all around wonderful, in this criminally overlooked movie from just two years ago. Not only is this his best role, it shows he still has plenty in him.
His two best movies are 22 years apart. That is a storied career if I've ever seen one. So these are Nic Cage's ten best roles. You could make an argument for different movies, but guess what