Nicolas Cage, born Nicolas Kim Coppola and nephew of iconic director Francis Ford Coppola, is one of the most prolific and well-known actors in Hollywood today. He has over fifty high-profile movies and has been nominated twice for an Academy Award. From fun movies like National Treasure and Kick-Ass to action flicks like The Rock, he has an impressive list of good films. Here’s but a quick glimpse at his top 3 movie roles:
H.I. McDunnough in Raising Arizona
Nicolas Cage plays an ex-con married to an ex-cop who kidnaps a millionaire’s kid and tries to raise it as their own. The movie on its own legs is funny but incredibly deep but it also allows Cage to really put his talent to the forefront. It shows Cage’s wacky side but through the tight, strict direction of the Coen brothers that wackiness is put to good use.
It’s one of his earliest efforts but already one can see that it is amongst his best. There is a reason why this film is so fondly remembered to this day: his acting is so good it nearly outshines everyone else’s.
Roy Waller in Matchstick Men
One would say that his role in Adaptation is amongst his best – after all, he got nominated for it – but there is a certain, unmatched depth to his portrayal of professional con-man in Ridley Scott’s Matchstick Men. The subtle drama between his character’s daughter and Roy Waller’s OCD issues make for an entertaining yet complex character that truly portrays Cage’s acting skills.
What really makes this performance catch on is the work Cage puts in the little details. The way his crazy antics work on the OCD concerns of Roy Waller, the way he interacts with Roy’s daughter, and the way Cage uses his diverse range of sly voice tricks sells the character.
Add the fact that the film is an intricate weaving of comedy and drama, it’s no wonder that Matchstick Men is often used in film schools.
Castor Troy and Sean Archer in Face/Off
While many might say Cage’s best action roles were in Con-Air, The Rock, or even Kick-Ass, it is his dual performance in Face/Off that truly defines his talent as a diverse actor. The movie, directed by action icon John Woo, is a violent hurricane of action and deceit as Cage and John Travolta’s characters swap faces, fooling both sides of the law.
Face/Off may not have a very deep plot but it is marked with intense drama, intense action sequences, and some of the best performances of both Cage and Travolta.