In Defense of Nicolas Cage

In the second installment of our “In Defense Of” series, I’m going to look at the varied (and I mean varied) career of one Nicolas Cage.

Last time, I attempted to calm the thrashing critcism against Tom Cruise‘s personal life by refocusing on his amazing career as an actor. Nicolas Cage has proven to be a trickier task. He seems like a really nice (if kind of strange) guy. But he has been in some terrible, terrible films. Sometimes, he’s the worst part! Case in point: The Wicker Man, Ghost Rider, Next. I could go on, but that would just make my argument harder.

It’s time to focus on all the good that Nicky Cage has brought us. Starting with:

Moonstruck

Well I’m sure this isn’t buying me any heterosexual credit points, but Cage is great as the one-handed romantic Ronny in this award-winning Cher vehicle. Playing the role with a mixture of intensity and sweetness, he makes falling in love with Cher seem palatable. Yet she won the oscar!?

Raising Arizona

This early Coen Brothers classic is a favourite amongst many fans. It shares the same screwball sentiment of many of their later films. Starring as love-struck petty criminal H.I., Cage cemented himself as one of the most interesting comic actors of the late-eighties. Sadly, he has rarely returned to these kinds of films, instead trying to (unsuccessfully) inject his serious roles with funny lines. It doesn’t quite pan out. But Raising Arizona proved he only needs a good script to work some magic.

Con Air/Face Off/The Rock

In 1997, Cage was the #1 box office draw for blockbuster movies. These three flicks grossed upwards of $100 million at the U.S. box office, and this was in a time where a film had to be really popular to make that much money, and not just another Fantastic Four film. Sure, they’re undoubtedly silly. But I stand by the fact that these are three of the best action films of the nineties. Any arguments? Didn’t think so.

One of my all-time favourite films, Nicolas Cage plays Charlie Kaufman and his (fake) twin brother Donald. His performance is a small miracle, playing the anxious Charlie and the happy-go-lucky Donald often within the same scene. Although he’s already won an oscar for Leaving Las Vegas, I definitely thought Cage deserved the accolade for this film. Anyone who doubts his acting capability needs to check this one out.

Possibly his last great film, Matchstick Men is an underrated classic. Directed by Ridley Scott, Cage stars as an obsessive compulsive con man, who discovers a long-lost teenage daughter. It’s one of his funniest and most heartfelt performances. It’s so good, it actually makes you forget that scene in The Wicker Man where he’s dressed like a bear.

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