Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Top 5 Movie Guide: Nicolas Cage

This week, with the impending release of "Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance", we take a look at some of our favorite Nicolas Cage movies. Cage is an actor that's always confused most of us. There are a good number of movies that he's done that many would consider good, if not great. But there are also a good number of movies that he's done that many would consider awful. And I know every actor has his share of bad movies, but for some of the great work he's done, this guy has a bigger number of duds than anyone else that comes to mind.

                               

But, today we celebrate his bests. There are plenty to choose from, so hopefully our insight leads you to a few new Nick Cage gems!

And as always, feel free to post your favorite Nicolas Cage movies at the bottom. We'd love to see where you think we missed!

Alex Schopp -

     1. Gone in Sixty Seconds

I know this isn't one of the most popular of Cage movies, but it will always hold a special spot for me. I've always enjoyed the heist genre, and his movie just caught me at a good time when I was younger. It's stayed with me all these years and it's one that I can always pop in and watch. It doesn't necessarily stimulate me, but it's easy and entertaining to watch.
     2. Leaving Las Vegas
Great story about an alcoholic and the troubles he goes through in what he accepts as his last few days. A rare role where Cage could be his normal, erratic self and have it be a perfect fit for the character he needed to be.
     3. Matchstick Men
Cage plays a neurotic character here, again, playing off a lot of the quirks already present in his regular self (as if I know the guy..). I can relate to and appreciate his obsessive nature. Again, a good heist story, this time with some actual characters.
     4. Raising Arizona
Classic Coen Brothers. Interesting look into the life and story of this character, played perfectly by Cage. As Derek points out below, which I wasn't aware of, the Coen's and Cage apparently didn't agree on much. Luckily the Coen Brothers came out on top on this one though (an interesting topic we discuss briefly in our most recent podcast), and Cage acted as they wanted - something that none of us think Cage gets forced to do much.
     5. Lord of War
I really wanted to put Face/Off here, but I went back and re-watched it recently, and while it's still nostalgic and fun, it doesn't hold up as well as I wanted it to. So I went with a less exciting pick, but still one of my favorite Nicolas Cage films. I really enjoy the way this film is shot. Plus it's a very interesting look into this section of the world.
Honorable Mention: Vampire's Kiss. Not a great movie, but if you haven't seen it, look it up. A great early Nick Cage watch!


Ben Foutch -

     1. Con Air

Action Movie Staple.
     2. Kick-Ass
Great comic, great movie.
     3. 8MM
Makes you feel filthy for watching it.
     4. Leaving Las Vegas
Sad look into the final days of an alcoholic's life.
     5. Trapped in Paradise
Jon Lovitz, Nicolas Cage and Dana Carvey...

Derek Clem -

     1. Kick-Ass

Easily the coolest thing he has ever done. Plus it's my favorite movie of 2010. Still gives me chills. A perfect example of how Cage's crazy approach to acting can be put to great use.
     2. Raising Arizona
Here's the thing about Nick Cage - he's a crazy guy with a crazy way of acting who tries to fill a movie with his version of how it should go. He's also Hollywood royalty, a Coppola. I think much of the time directors are intimidated by his name and are afraid to direct him and instead allow Cage to direct himself, sometimes resulting in poor movies. They back down and give Cage his artistic freedom and let him do what he wants, in which case many are left with wildly overacted scenes. In some cases, Cage's wild ideas enhance a movie...like Kick-Ass. In this instance, The Coen Brothers stayed strong and what we see on screen is their version. They and Cage have both alluded to the fact that their filming relationship experienced conflict on the set of this film. Two artistic visions butting heads. Luckily in this instance, the Coen Brothers prevailed. 
I would say this and my number three choice are tied for his best performance. I just love this movie more so that's why it's above my next pick. For years it stood as my favorite Nick Cage movie.
     3. Moonstruck
As I stated before, I think this is one of his greatest performances. Plus the movie is great.
     4. Adaptation
If my two and three spots hold the tie for his best performance, this slot holds his second-best performance.
     5. Con Air
So ludicrous and so amazing!

Nathan Hinds -

     1. Kick-Ass

I really can't say enough times how awesome I think this movie is. I will argue that the last 35 minutes of this movie is probably the greatest, and certainly the most watchable, in the history of cinema. Let's put it this way, and I've thought long and hard about this, if I had to be stuck on a deserted island and was only allowed to bring one movie, this would be it.
     2. Con Air
For the longest time, I thought this would never be topped. Then Kick-Ass came around. I guarantee this movie is in the top five of the movies I've seen most in my life. I love every second of it. Definitely a Top-10 action film for me!
     3. Face/Off
Another movie that I have seen probably hundreds of times. Just so entertaining. Plus the amount of sweet one-liners in this movie alone is enough for it to make this list.
     4. The Rock
Great pairing of Cage and Connery. Plus I'm a Michael Bay apologist, and this happens to be Bay's only movie with a positive rating (which is bullshit, by the way, but that's a different topic), so it has to make the list, right? Yes!
     5. National Treasure
The best expedition/treasure hunt movie since the Indiana Jones films. This is another movie I never get tired of watching.

There you have it! Our Best-Of Nicolas Cage lists. Again, it looks like our lists provided quite a bit of variety. "Con Air" and "Kick-Ass" hit on three of the four lists, while films like "Raising Arizona" and "Leaving Las Vegas" hit two. Otherwise, all unique picks, and hopefully each one can help you to expand on your familiarity with Nicolas Cage's filmography!