Nicolas Kim Coppola, more familiarly known as Nic Cage, is one of the greatest and most versatile actors around. He flits from manic to majestic from film to film (and sometimes scene by scene) and is known for giving his all, and then some, in his performances.
He is now starring in a Netflix show where he charts the history of swearing (seriously, it's called History of Swear Words) and we felt that, because of this, it was right that we should chart his greatest performances.
UPDATE: There is going to be a Face/Off sequel. It's highly doubtful that Cage will star but it does have a decent director. Adam Wingard is taking on the absurd masterpiece - his latest movie is the monster mashup, Godzilla Vs Kong.
Now, we aren’t talking about his brilliance in movies such as Leaving Las Vegas and Adaptation - where he was Oscar nominated - but his BEST performances, the ones where he goes full Nic Cage with apocalyptic rage, overblown comedy or punching people while dressed as a bear.
Here are the 10 Nic Cage moments that you need to see - the ones that will make your jaw drop and mutter WTF? under your breath.
Best Nic Cage performances
1. Con Air
“Put the bunny back in the box.” This one line sums up the absurdity of Con Air, a film that tries hard to make you root for a bunch of unsavoury characters that have names like The Virus, The Marietta Mangler and, er, Sally-Can't Dance. But not Cameron Poe, no he’s stuck on a prison plane by mistake and all he wants to do is get back to his son and wife. Well, that and feel the wind in his long hair in slow motion.
“I could eat a peach for hours.” Ah, Castor Troy, one of the best movie bad guys, who has his face swapped with FBI agent John Travolta because, well, reasons. It’s a perfect Cage movie where he gets to play two characters, ramping up his jittery acting to the max. “I hate to see you go, but I LOVE to watch you leave,” is one of the cringiest lines in Hollywood history but pure poetry coming out of the mouth of Cage.
Oh, Mandy. Well, you came and you gave us Nicolas Cage as a chainsaw-wielding lumberjack who is hunting the gang who invaded his home. There’s a scene where he downs a bottle of vodka, screaming while covered in blood. It’s essential viewing and once again proves that nobody does Nic Cage like Nic Cage.
4. Wild At Heart
"Did I ever tell ya that this here jacket represents a symbol of my individuality, and my belief in personal freedom?" Nope. we haven’t got the fogiest either but Cage in a David Lynch movie is just about the most perfect pairing you can ask for. Throughout the movie, which is a loose take on The Wizard of Oz, Cage takes every surreal moment - including when he appears in a crystal ball and when an old man quacks like a duck at him in a bar - on the chin. Well, this is the actor who bought, in real life, a 70-million-year-old dinosaur skull, which he apparently later had to return to the Mongolian government so we guessed those moments were not that surreal to him.
5. Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans
A sequel to Bad Lieutenant on paper is an awful idea but with Werner Herzog at the helm and Nic Cage as the ‘bad lieutenant’ the movie does more than enough to match a naked Harvey Keitel in the original. For Cage, it’s scenes where he threatens old ladies with a Magnum (gun, not lolly) where he really shines. Oh, and his chat with an iguana.
Playing the elder Batman-like Big Daddy in Kick-Ass was a revelation, his character both caring and utterly mad. It meant Cage could show off his range and impeccable comic(book) timing.
7. Mom And Dad
We’ve all been there, a mystery signal causes parents to go, for 24 hours, into a blood-thirsty frenzy, where they want to kill their children. A bit like when your dad stepped on a bit of your Lego when you were younger, then. Here the kids have to survive Mom (the brilliant Selma Blair) and Dad (well, you know who this is) and, well, the movie more than hits the ‘Cage being unhinged’ quota.
8. Vampire’s Kiss
Nicolas Cage stars a publishing exec who thinks he is turning into a vampire. Now, we could read this as a metaphor for the vampiric nature of the publishing industry but that would mean ShortList itself would have to take a hard look in a mirror, and we can’t do that as we have no reflection. Cage’s performance is sublime and deliriously bug-eyed, so much that it’s inspired many a meme. Given Cage is a meme personified, this was always going to happen.
9. Ghost Rider
Nic Cage finally getting to play his absolute hero Johnny Blaze, who he has tattooed on his body, was a dream come true for him but a bit of a nightmare for movie watchers. That said. Cage is great and unhinged throughout, as well as wearing a fantastic toupe, it’s just a shame that the moments he goes full Cage are when his face explodes into a fiery skull. The second movie, Spirit Of Vengeance, doubles down on Cage-isms, including a nuanced scene where he pisses fire.
10. The Wicker Man
Cage’s performance in the remake of The Wicker Man doesn’t save the movie, nothing can, but it does highlight just what a ridiculous idea the movie was. Saint Nic plays Edward Malus, a sheriff investigating the disappearance of a young girl on the island of Summerisle. What happens next is, well, quite something. We’re not sure if it’s scene where he threatens a lady with a gun because she won’t get off a bike, knocks out someone while dressed as a bear, harrasses little children because they are wearing masks or when he is attacked by bees is the most Cage moment, but it’s an absolute brilliant hate watch.
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