In one of his finest and most subtle performances in years, Nicolas Cage plays a recluse whose beloved truffle pig is kidnapped -- and he'll go out of his comfort zone to get her back. Earning raves for his performance, "Pig" is a complex character study on grief with a perfectly cast Cage.
‘Leaving Las Vegas’ (1995)
One of the biggest critical successes of Nicolas Cage’s career earned him an Oscar for his performance as a self-destructive alcoholic who lost everything. Down on his luck and determined to drink himself to death, Cage's Ben Sanderson finds love with a prostitute (Elisabeth Shue) in Las Vegas, making her vow to not get in the way of his drinking. It’s a dark look at the destructive nature of alcoholism and Cage completely commits to the role.
‘Raising Arizona’ (1987)
A screwball dark comedy from the Coen Brothers, Nicolas Cage is wacky and wonderful as the cartoonish H.I. McDunnough, opposite Holly Hunter as a childless couple deciding to help themselves to one of a wealthy family’s quintuplets. It’s disturbing, zany and full of non-stop action, giving audiences a taste of what an unhinged-yet-controlled Cage can be.
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You’d be forgiven for forgetting about David Gordon Green’s indie drama “Joe”, which won praise on the festival circuit at TIFF and the Venice Film Festival. Buried among his direct-to-VOD fare in the 2010s, the film is a return to form for Cage who plays an ex-con and unlikely role model for a 15-year-old boy (Tye Sheridan) at a crossroads in his life. It’s a simple and slow-moving drama and Cage reined it in, in an understated but effective performance.
'Valley Girl' (1983)
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In his very first leading role, 19-year-old Cage is super sweet as the boy from the wrong side of the Valley in the teen rom-com “Valley Girl”. As edgy Hollywood punk Randy, Cage is charismatic and charming, and it’s easy to see why he’d become a star in just a few short years. While its fashions might be a bit dated, the movie’s themes are universal and stand the test of time. Plus, without it, we wouldn’t have “Clueless”.
‘Trapped In Paradise’ (1994)
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Even at his wackiest in “Trapped In Paradise”, Cage is the straight man to his on-screen brothers played by Jon Lovitz and Dana Carvey. Stuck in a picturesque town (Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ont. doubling for a quaint upstate New York) after robbing the local bank on Christmas Eve, the Firpo brothers discover the true meaning of Christmas. Not without its wacky moments, the comedy proves that Cage doesn’t always need to be the manic centre of attention.
‘Con Air’ (1997)
“The Rock” may have kicked off Cage’s about-face from serious dramatic actor to action star in 1996, but “Con Air” cemented his hero status. While the plot about a con hitching a flight to freedom, along with some of the roughest inmates around might not be the most believable story ever, it makes up for it with non-stop action and explosions. And Cage’s long, flowing locks.
‘Red Rock West’ (1993)
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A Neo-Noir thriller, “Red Rock West” is a character study with Cage masquerading as a killer for hire. It’s quirky and violent with a brilliant cast that includes J.T. Walsh, Dennis Hopper and Lara Flynn Boyle, who all expertly play off Cage as a true ensemble. It’s one of the most underrated gems of Cage’s early career.
‘Bringing Out The Dead’ (1999)
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Partnering with Martin Scorsese and his future ex-wife Patricia Arquette, Cage is a worn-out ambulance driver in the gritty character-driven drama. Watching Cage become unhinged under the skillful eye of Scorsese is a treat.
‘Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans’ (2009)
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Nicolas Cage and director Werner Herzog are a match made in heaven we never knew we needed. Unhinged and bonkers, “Bad Lieutenant” blurs the lines between good and bad – both thematically and figuratively. At times incoherent, the crime drama is at its exhilarating best when Cage gets to let loose and seriously spew lines at a dead man like, “Shoot him again, his soul’s still dancing.” This one is definitely for all the Cageheads who love the actor when he’s at his over-the-top best.
‘The Family Man’ (2000)
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“The Family Man” may be a predictable Christmas story in the vein of “It’s A Wonderful Life”, but Cage is rarely as charming on screen as he is in this drama about a high-powered investment broker who gets the opportunity to see what his life would have been like had he married his college sweetheart. It’s one of the most restrained roles in Cage’s filmography. Sure, it’s overly sentimental and cheesy, but that’s exactly what Christmas movies are supposed to be.
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Why settle for one Nicolas Cage performance, when you can have two? The actor does double-duty as twin screenwriter brother Charlie and Donald Kaufman in Spike Jonze’s meta dramedy. Loopy and goofy at times, Cage’s performances are incredibly endearing. It’s no wonder he landed another Oscar nomination for the film.
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Over-the-top and incredibly stylish, John Woo’s “Face/Off” gives Cage the chance to play the bad guy… and then the good guy playing the bad guy. Cage and co-star John Travolta deliver an epic game of cat-and-mouse, but it’s Cage’s uncontrolled wildness that reigns supreme.
Cher and Olympia Dukakis may have nabbed Oscars for their performances in Canadian director Norman Jewison’s “Moonstruck”, but Cage proved himself as one to watch. Just five years into his career, the young actor demonstrates he can hit that perfect balance between comedy and drama as the dysfunctional romantic Ronny Cammareri.
'The Wicker Man' (2006)
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It’s true, “The Wicker Man” isn’t a good movie. But what it is, is a lot of fun. You might be tempted to pinpoint this as Cage’s first descent into manic on-screen madness after a string of successful dramas, but anyone who has seen “Vampire’s Kiss” will attest that this over-the-top Cage has always been there, simmering under the surface. While this remake may be wholly misguided, the unintentional laughs (and memes) that come from Cage’s performance as a sheriff investigating the disappearance of a young girl in a remote island community, make this one of his best off-the-rails performances which is an entire genre of Nicolas Cage movies unto itself.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent
It's the role Nicolas Cage was born to play -- himself. As "Nick Cage", Cage is in on the joke, playing into his so-called eccentric persona as an actor who makes a paid appearance at a wealthy businessman/Cage superfan's (Pedro Pascal) birthday party. Naturally, chaos ensues.
Filled with reference's to Cage's body of work, "The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent" is a must-watch for any Cage connoisseur.