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Nicolas Cage reveals his Top Five best performances - What are yours?

The many faces of Nic Cage
The many faces of Nic Cage Copyright Universal Pictures, Buena Vista International, Sony Pictures Releasing, Lionsgate
Copyright Universal Pictures, Buena Vista International, Sony Pictures Releasing, Lionsgate
By David MouriquandAmber Bryce, Theo Farrant, Katy Dartford, Laiba Mubashar
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Nicolas Cage recently revealed his Top Five best performances on screen. We took it upon ourselves to suggest five alternatives...

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With a filmography as eclectic as Nicolas Cage’s, you try picking out a favourite.

Still, that’s exactly what the prolific actor did recently, when appearing on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to promote his new film Renfield, in which he plays Transylvanian vampire Count Dracula.

Colbert asked: “What are Nic Cage’s top five Nic Cage films?”

The actor replied: “I’m going to start with Pig. That’s my favourite movie I’ve ever made.”

A wise choice, as the 2021 drama is indeed one of his very best. Cage’s plays a reclusive man who sets out to track down the people who kidnapped his beloved truffle-hunting pig. The basic premise recalls Taken or the pup-avenging antics of John Wick, but don’t be fooled; Pig wrestles with personal reckoning and entrenched trauma in a gently dazzling way. If you haven't seen it, seek it out. 

As for the other four, Cage chose the films Mandy (2018), Bringing Out the Dead (1999), Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2009) and Joe (2013).

All fine choices, which didn't make this next part easy... 

Euronews Culture has taken it upon itself to wrestle with the daunting task of choosing our favourite Nic Cage films that aren’t in Nic Cage’s Top 5 list. 

We proceed chronologically.  

Moonstruck (1987)

I’ve not seen many Nicolas Cage films, but I do remember his 1987 offering, Moonstruck starring Cher, as a very funny, charming and heart-warming film.

I would have been under ten when this came out and even then I didn’t quite buy the attraction between the pair - they seemed a complete mismatch to me. Even when they were ‘in love’, I found it all a bit cringy. I don’t think Cage is my idea of a romantic hero, but I guess that’s the point. He’s the perfect disgruntled anti-hero, Ronny, who pursues his brother Johnny’s fiancé Loretta (Cher) relentlessly, having no qualms given he blames his brother for losing his hand in an accident at his bakery. 

Loretta invites Ronny to her wedding, and when he refuses and reveals his wooden prosthetic hand she offers to cook for him to discuss it. This is when it all goes wrong for her as she ends up in bed with Ronny after telling him he is a "wolf" who cut off his own hand to escape the trap of a bad relationship. Ronny takes her to the first opera, Puccini's La bohème, on the promise he will never bother her again…

I won't ruin the rest. But I love Loretta’s ​​Italian-American family, her attempts to resist Ronny and the triumph of love to heal their troubled pasts. But I suppose I am a romantic… Katy Dartford

Face/Off (1997)

When I was at university, I had this friend that would host Nicolas Cage themed movie nights in our damp little house, filled with Styrofoam takeaway boxes and cigarette butts floating in days-old dirty pints. Sat amongst the filth, we’d watch everything from Con Air and The Rock, to the deplorable Drive Angry and Raising Arizona (another of my favourites.)

It dawned on me then how much Cage has shaped my movie watching experiences growing up, appearing in such an eclectic and seemingly random array of films. But mostly, the running joke was how bizarre he is as a movie star; not the conventionally chiselled action hero, nor traditionally “cool.” He seems almost out of place in certain roles, himself an eccentric character more fascinating than those he’s playing.

Perhaps this is why, in my opinion, he thrives so much in John Woo’s 1997 classic, Face/Off. Woo’s flamboyant style of filmmaking, white doves and all, lends itself perfectly to Cage’s totally unhinged performance as the wanted terrorist Castor Troy (or should that be John Travolta’s performance?)

From the ridiculous premise that's so silly it's brilliant, to the epic action sequences and over-the-top performances which make up for the plot holes (and the less said about those uncomfortable sexual moments between Troy-as-Archer and Archer’s daughter, the better), Face/Off represents to me why so many people love Cage. He just incredibly entertaining to watch - and versatile too.

While cinema can be artistic and complicated and deep, it can also be nothing more than a fun escape. So, whenever I’m a bit down - or slightly tipsy at a house party and watching random clips on YouTube with friends - I’ll put on the opening to Face/Off and see Cage dressed as a priest, bizarrely swinging his head around to the chorus of a choir, and it’ll make me laugh every time. Amber Bryce

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National Treasure (2004)

Whenever Nicholas Cage is brought up in conversation, my mind is instantly pulled in two wildly different directions. 

Firstly, there's the utterly disturbing Nic Cage Christmas tree decoration that somehow found its way into my family's possession. I have no idea how it got there, but I know that it haunts my dreams. 

Tell me yours will be alright after seeing this Christmas treat: 

Theo Farrant
Merry CagemassTheo Farrant

Secondly, there's the cinematic gem that is National Treasure. I've lost count of how many times I've watched it, and each time I do, I'm transported back to my childhood. The film is an absolute blast from start to finish. It's got everything you could want from an adventure flick - corny one-liners (“I’m going to steal the Declaration of Independence”), heart-racing action set pieces, and a criminally under-appreciated score from Trevor Rabin. 

And then there's Cage himself, who's simply perfect in the lead role. He truly brings so much energy and charisma to the character, and it feels like a role that was tailor-made just for him. He’s also well supported by the likes of Diane Kruger, Sean Bean and Jon Voight. 

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Sure, National Treasure isn't exactly an Oscar-winning, highbrow masterpiece, but it’s certainly one hell of a fun ride - not one to be eclipsed by the likes of Mandy or Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New OrleansTheo Farrant

Ghost Rider (2007)

It may not be my favourite superhero adventure film. Nor is it considered one of Cage's best performances. But for me, Ghost Rider is proof that the Oscar-winning actor approaches all his films with equal passion and zeal, no matter how silly the plot might be.

Looking back at the 2007 film, I’ve realized that director Mark Steven Johnson could’ve spent some of his CGI budget that made the film’s “skull’n’bones” special effects possible to hire a better screenwriter for the plot. But I must admit how entertaining the film’s adventure sequences were to my childhood self. I was only six at the time of the film’s release but recall watching it a few years later as it would play endlessly on HBO back in the good old television days. 

Cage is perfect as Johnny Blaze, who is tricked into selling his soul to the devil as a teenager in exchange for his father’s cancer to be cured. The rest of the casting helps too - of course the devil is played by Peter Fonda, (one of the original Easy Riders) and it's definitely one to add to your list if you’re embarking on a Nicolas Cage movie marathon. Especially if you want to admire the versatility of an actor who never doesn't commit. Laiba Mubashar

The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent (2022)

He’s played vampires, Beatles-obsessed FBI agents, John Travolta and a truffle hunter on a mission. But the Nicolas Cage movie that stands out for me is when he got to finally play the role he was born for: Nicolas Cage plays Hollywood actor Nick Cage in The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent.

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As a fictionalised version of himself, the has-been actor becomes embroiled in a CIA mission to retrieve the kidnapped daughter of a politician. The plot of the film was ludicrously on-brand for the performer who has become the self-aware cinematic butt of the joke over the years, but despite the gimmicky meta premise, it worked wonders. The film is a hilarious caper that doubles as a sly industry satire, one which benefits from Cage injecting some vulnerability to his full gonzo act. 

And then there’s obviously Pedro Pascal giving us this face, which is a pretty non-negligible bonus:

Lionsgate
A star-truck Pedro Pascal in The Unbearable Weight Of Massive TalentLionsgate

Look at him. Just look at his smiling face. 

But I digress. Back to Nic... 

While my ideal Cage-a-thon would have Wild At Heart and that snake leather jacket, the wonder that is The Rock, the underrated brilliance of Bringing Out the Dead, the LSD-trippiness of Mandy, all topped off by a solid Con Air chaser, this goofy action comedy is peak Cage for me. It does nothing short of celebrate one of the most misunderstood and batshit brilliant actors of his generation. David Mouriquand

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