Let’s take a few minutes to talk about Nicolas Cage, one of the most diverse actors to be on the big-screen. Do you guys remember when he was supposed to play Superman at one point? No, really, he was actually casted, got suited up and did photoshoots for it, and he was about to play America’s first superhero. You know, long before he played Ghost Rider back in 2007. Well, as we all know by now, the great Nicolas Cage never got the chance to play Superman. The whole project, titled Superman Lives, just couldn’t find its footing and the whole thing was scrapped. Honestly, if you do some research on the details of Superman Lives, you’ll probably think we didn’t miss out on anything special. Well, at least we got two Ghost Rider movies with Nicolas Cage. Yeah, it’s probably best to forget about those.
But all jokes aside, I find it difficult to describe how I feel about Nicolas Cage and his acting abilities. Would you call him a great actor? I think the best way to answer that is to look at his career as a whole. Back in the ’90s, Nicolas Cage was on a hot streak. Granted, not every movie he was in was great, but he was starring in many movies. You can look at his Academy Award-winning performance in Leaving Las Vegas, which he was admittedly good in. But hold on, it turned out Nicolas Cage was also capable of doing more than just serious roles.
Another signature role of Nicolas Cage from the ’90s was Cameron Poe in the intense action thriller Con Air. If you’ve seen it, you’ll know that his over-the-top Alabama accent was super phony. But you know what? It just made watching him in that movie all the better. He may not have been the most convincing action star, but he showed some serious commitment to that role. I’ll admit, that is when I enjoy watching Nicolas Cage the most. You can talk about how good he was in Moonstruck, Raising Arizona, or Adaptation, all movies he was good in, but I like seeing Nicolas Cage when he’s just being Nicolas Cage. In other words, when he’s being weird or trying really hard to be serious.
Nicolas Cage did seem to fall off the map for a while after he went on a huge spending spree and basically went broke. I mean, the guy spent his millions on several castles in Germany and dinosaur skulls. I guess when you have enough money, sometimes you just can’t figure out what to do with it. Well, I suppose Nicolas Cage found the most bizarre ways to spend his money and it ended up hurting his career. However, in recent years, he has apparently made a comeback with several notable movies. These include Mandy, Pig, and even voicing the Noir version of Spider-Man in 2018’s animated movie, Into the Spider-Verse.
His most recent movie, however, seems to be his most bizarre role of his entire career. The movie is The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, where Nicolas Cage plays, well, himself. The whole plot involves Pedro Pascal playing Javi Gutierrez, Nicolas Cage super fan (named Nick Cage in the movie) who pays Nick Cage $1 million just to appear at his birthday party. It sounds ridiculous, but let’s be honest, those are the kinds of movies Nicolas Cage thrives in. It sounds hilarious and it’s something I will soon watch. But with the apparent resurgence of Nicolas Cage’s career, I have to look back at his best role.
All the big Nicolas Cage fans out there will debate about this, but I have to look at the role that has entertained me the most. That would have to be police Lieutenant Terence McDonagh from Bad Lieutenant: Port Call of New Orleans. If you haven’t seen this 2009 movie, then please, go find it and check it out. This isn’t a remake of Abel Ferrara’s 1992 Bad Lieutenant movie with Harvey Keitel as the titular character. If you have seen that movie, then you’ll know that is a serious movie that shows the tragic journey of a corrupt police officer. Well, the Nicolas Cage movie is kind of the same thing, except you’ll probably end up laughing more than crying.
Was that intentional? Maybe not but I dare you to try and watch Bad Lieutenant in full without laughing. You can’t. If I had to give a perfect description of it, I would say that it is basically Nicolas Cage reality TV. Did you guys know that he did that? It technically isn’t, but come on, it may as well be. It’s no secret that fans consider Nicolas Cage to be a bit of a weirdo. Well, in Bad Lieutenant, his character is all kinds of weird. He literally spends most of the movie doing drugs and committing multiple crimes. The best scene is when he takes a hit from his “lucky crack pipe” with Xzibit’s character and goes on a hilarious tangent about a particular football player. It was so random and totally irrelevant but that didn’t matter because it was just Nicolas Cage going full hammy.
To be honest, it was probably the funniest thing I have ever seen Nicolas Cage do. The whole movie has him doing all kinds of wacky things, but that scene just stood out to me. Now, given the history of Nicolas Cage’s personal life, it makes you wonder if this was superb acting or just Nicolas Cage being himself. To be fair, there were never any reports of him doing the same level of drugs his character in Bad Lieutenant has done. However, this character would never work how he did unless Nicolas Cage acted like his typical hammy self. To me, that is the most entertaining way to watch a Nicolas Cage performance. Is it really better than his best performances from his glory days? Actually, I would argue yes, but that’s because I love hammy Nic Cage.
What are your thoughts, Nic Cage fans? What do you think is his best performance?