We've already put through our totally scientific and accurate Insanity Scale. It's true he's had his fair share of crazy roles, but the fact of the matter is he's more than meme fodder. The fact that he's going to voice Grug in The Croods 2 after the first film grossed $400 million says a lot. Likewise, he's fluffy and ferocious in the upcoming indie drama Joe. The man can act. For every insane performance, there's one that's Oscar-worthy or simply badass. Here's a reminder of why the quirky man still has a place in Hollywood with THE NICOLAS CAGE AWESOME SCALE.
Movie: Con Air
Awesome acting rating: 6/10
Cage hit his stride with one of the most excellent action movies of all time, following psychopathic maniacs on a plane in Con Air. Every time I watch it, I can't help but think that this is an actor who's playing a joke on me over and over. Sure, his lines are corny, but they're delivered cleverly. Likewise, the situations are completely hilarious and his character is somehow still engaging. Because of movies like Con Air, some people seem unprepared to accept Cage for all his quirks and eccentricities. They have decided that he is some sort of outlandish representative of Hollywood, and that it is no longer cool for us to praise his talent. But, who can forget him brawling to the death for the sake of his son's soft toy and delivering - with perfection - his "put the bunny back in the box!"
Awesome acting rating: 7/10
In the same year as Con Air, Face/Off arrived on the big screen. Cage, totally in his element, played a randy pseudo priest alongside . I've struggled for a long time in trying to decided whether or not this movie is abrasively over-the-top or a work of genius. But with Cage's presence, I go with the latter. Con Air is a prime example of Cage taking on trash and injecting it with his own brand of passion. Unlike other action heroes of his time, Cage is a true live wire, a demented and tender presence who can kick all kinds of ass, even as a doting husband and father.
Awesome acting rating: 8/10
Cage speaks some truths in Adaptation playing screenwriter Charlie Kaufman. Case in point: He mutters, "I'm insane!" That doesn't change the fact that he's a natural in this role, especially when that great face of his breaks into a saccharine grin. He's also perfect at carrying Charlie's disgust when Donald attempts to use thespian insider jargon and winces when his brother airily refers to his "pitch". Cage finds room to explore two very different types of performances; one is the depressed lead and the other is joyful supporting character we love.
Movie: Wild at Heart
Awesome acting rating: 9/10
My favorite Cage role is Sailor Ripley in Wild at Heart. In 's 1990 flick, he waltzed around as the the kind of guy who makes you smoke in excess, fight indifferently, and kill without hesitation in the name of lust. This movie is full of meta-level Cage affectations, like the whole Elvis impersonation thing he's got going, as well as the insane attacks of rage. A prime example of why Nic Cage should be bestowed with the status of an effortlessly cool indie pro.
Movie: Leaving Las Vegas
Awesome acting rating: 10/10
Leaving Las Vegas is the movie that Cage won an Oscar for Best Actor. Though you might not believe it now, he more than deserved it. I am still under the spell of this remarkable account of deprivation and the descent into alcohol addiction which is both heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time. Cage plays a man who loses his family and career and moves to Vegas with the intention of quite literally drinking himself to death, when he meets 's prostitute character and falls for her. His performance is an acutely observed record of a man coming to pieces. He shows Ben imploding; smiling when he wants to cry and joking when he wants to scream.
Cage is a guy who can carry off a leftfield Lynch movie or equally be drafted in to serve time on a whitebread blockbuster. Next time Cage pulls a funny face you may laugh. But remember this guy has talent, and to say he's versatile would be an understatement. He's the most broken of all crackpots, but he's one of the few leading men who still keeps us on our toes.
Did we miss anything? Let us know your favorite Nic Cage role in the comments below.