Over 53 films, the 45-year old actor has done virtually every genre imaginable with his wholly unique stylistic mix of hyper-realism and over-the-top absurdity. With Cage's 'Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans' just opening (in a role he already has many critics swooning over), we thought it'd be a good time to look back at the actor's 10 best performances. Method actor. Big-budget action star. Manic weirdo. Prolific worker. Nicolas Cage has been called so many things over the years, and admittedly starred in a lot of misfires, that it's easy to forget his incredibly diverse and creative body of work.
Over 53 films, the 45-year old actor has done virtually every genre imaginable with his wholly unique stylistic mix of hyper-realism and over-the-top absurdity. With Cage's 'Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans' just opening (in a role he already has many critics swooning over), we thought it'd be a good time to look back at the actor's 10 best performances.
'Valley Girl' (1983)
The Valley Girl accent is so embedded in our culture now that it's hard to believe at one time it was actually a novel, albeit annoying, way of speaking. In this Southern California-based '80s teen comedy, Cage plays Randy, a party-crashing Hollywood rebel and the first of many "bad boy" roles.
In this overlooked film, Cage's first drama, the actor plays mentally fragile Vietnam Vet Al Columbato and friend to Matthew Modine's Birdy, a fellow vet who ignores the world and acts like a parakeet. Between this and 'Valley Girl,' Cage shows the versatility, range and nuanced style that would define his career.
Cage's breakout role. He snagged a Golden Globe nomination as Ronny Cammerari, a bakery worker caught in a love triangle between a brother who caused his disability (Danny Aiello) and the woman trapped between the two (Cher).
'Raising Arizona' (1987)
Unable to have children of their own, Cage and wife Holly Hunter kidnap the son of a rich owner of furniture stores in the Coen Brothers' hysterically weird comedy-noir. Cage nails the role, imbuing the well-intentioned, yet woefully misguided H.I. McDonnough with a perfect blend of cluelessness, courage and sentimentality.
Vampire's Kiss' (1989)
Now known as "that movie where Cage eats a live cockroach," Cage's literary agent-turned-self-induced vampire propels this cult classic, despite the fact that, or possibly because of his slipping in and out of accent.
Wild at Heart' (1990)
"This here jacket represents a symbol of my individuality, and my belief in personal freedom?" Channeling real-life idol Elvis Presley as Sailor Ripley, Cage and lover Laura Dern embark on a violent, sex-fueled cross-country road trip in David Lynch's classic, where Cage's manic style is at full peak.
'Red Rock West' (1993)
Arguably Cage's most overlooked movie, this Hitchcockian film noir finds the actor caught in a perverse murder plot involving a sheriff, his wife and a predictably crazy Dennis Hopper. As you can probably guess with Cage and Hopper in the same film, bad things ensue.
'Leaving Las Vegas' (1995)
Cage picks up his first and only Academy Award (and universal acclaim) for his role as alcoholic Ben Sanderson in Mike Figgis' drama about the relationship between an alcoholic and a prostitute (Elisabeth Shue). The scenes where Cage empties out a liquor store and hits rock bottom remains permanently buried in our heads.
'Bringing Out the Dead' (1999)
'Taxi Driver' alums Martin Scorsese and screenwriter Paul Schrader reunite in this dark tale of late-night paramedics unfairly called "'Taxi Driver' with ambulances." After a string of big-budget action blockbusters ('The Rock,' 'Con Air'), Cage returns to drama as a tortured EMT worker struggling with the pressures of the job.
Cage earned an Academy Award nomination for his dual portrayal of Charlie and Donald Kaufman, vastly different twin brothers that help adapt Susan Orlean's 'The Orchid Thief' to the screen (based in part on actual screenwriter Charlie Kaufman). We'd try to explain more, but Spike Jonze's meta-masterpiece just needs to be seen to be understood.