As of lately Nicolas Cage has been identified by his recent and quite lengthy string of some very odd, and some would say, bad choices in movies he’s made. I find this to be a little bit sad because I don’t always remember Nicolas Cage as being the butt of so many jokes. In fact, I remember a time when he was making good films, with many great filmmakers and yes, even winning awards. I decided to look back through his catalog and see if I can spot where things went wrong and also look at the very best parts of his body of work.
First things first, a little background on Cage. His given name is Nicolas Coppola, and yes, he is related to the famed Hollywood Coppola family. His uncle is the great, Francis Ford Coppola, so you could say he came from Hollywood royalty. Despite his famous surname, he was only credited once with his given name, that was in Fast Times At Ridgemont High. He then chose to make it movies on his own merit and changed his last name to Cage, after a comic book character.
I thought I would come up with a couple top five lists since there really are different aspects of his career that could definitely be ranked. I’m going to start with the best directors he has worked with, which, when you look at it is quite a long list. This list could probably be a top ten, but I’m going to do my best to rank what I think the best five are.
5. Spike Jonze (Adaptation)
Spike Jonze has really come to establish himself as one of the best current directors in Hollywood. His writing earned him an Academy Award in 2014 for the movie Her and he was nominated for best director for Being John Malkovich, his first feature film. He directed cage in the film, Adaptation which gave Cage his second Oscar nomination. Cage played the eccentric writer, Charlie Kaufman as well as his brother Donald. It was a challenging role with a challenging script, but he pulled it off almost masterfully.
4. David Lynch (Wild At Heart)
David Lynch is undoubtedly one of the most original and creative directors of the last forty years. He has created a world and mindset, all his own. He is a unique and fierce story teller with an extremely loyal audience. Wild At Heart was most likely one of the first real challenges Cage faced not even ten years into his career. A solid cast lead to a solid movie and Cage really showed he had what it takes to hang with the best of them.
3. Ridley Scott (Matchstick Men)
Ridley Scott is one director who is always working, not Woody Allen busy, but very busy. Ridley makes the movies the he wants to make and doesn’t cow tow to anyone. In 2003 he made a very good little picture that is easily forgotten yet very well liked. Matchstick Men is the story of a con man with several mental phobias and compulsive issues who is grooming a protege. When his daughter arrives, he struggles with whether or not he should teach her his business. Cage has the great ability to make you almost feel uncomfortable at his antics. It is one of Cage’s most underrated movies.
2. The Coen Brothers (Raising Arizona)
The Coen brothers rise to fame and enormous praise began with their second film, Raising Arizona. Many Coen brothers fans still hold this film as one of their top movies in their collection. It is the story of a poor, and almost white trash couple who decides to steal one of a group of quintuplets that were recently born. It is a movie of crazy high-jinx with that signature Coen brothers style. People really started looking at Cage as an actor rather than just a “B” movie actor and his second movie that year, Moonstruck, would solidify him.
1. Martin Scorsese (Bringing Out The Dead)
While it’s not considered one of Scorsese’s best films due to the fact that it was directly following his poorly received, Kundun, it was not what people hoped he would return to. Bringing Out The Dead is the story of an ambulance paramedic who begins mentally breaking down when he can’t shake the memories of all the people he failed to save. It is definitely not as bad of a movie as it has been received. Nicolas Cage is really outstanding in the movie that Scorsese used to try different aspects of film making.
Francis Ford Coppola (3 different films)
Oliver Stone (World Trade Center)
Joel Schumacher (8 MM)