Underrated: Nicolas Cage

Somewhere along the line, it became cool to hate Nicolas Cage. Well, I'm not cool. I like Nicolas Cage (Nic as I call him when we hang out). Few actors have the ability to consistently deliver solid performances no matter what the role. Whether its serious, funny, or just stupid, Cage will do his level best to make it entertaining. Here are 10 reasons Nicolas Cage is underrated:

10. Fast Times at Ridgemont High - Nic's first film and the only one where he was credited under his birthname Nicolas Coppola. Wanting to avoid charges of nepotism, he changed his name to Cage. He is, of course, the nephew of Francis Ford Coppola & Talia Shire and the cousin of Sophia Coppola & Jason Schwarzman.

9. Ghost Rider - Remember when I mentioned stupid roles? Well here you go. Cage delivers precisely what you would expect in this comic book movie about a stunt motorcyclist who sells his soul to the devil. Cage seems to have a connection to comics. The name Cage was taken from comic book character Luke Cage and his son is named Kal-El, Superman's birthname.

8. The Wicker Man - I can't understand why this movie is so hated. If you want mind numbing over the top claptrap, watch the original. Here he plays a California cop who travels to a remote island to investigate the disappearance of a girl. In another life, I have to believe Nic would have been a CHP officer.

7. The Weather Man - In a film not many people saw, Cage nails his performance as a Chicago weather man who takes nothing but abuse from everyone in his life.

6. Face/Off - Another movie with an absolutely idiotic premise, Face/Off has Nic and John Travolta trade faces. Stupid idea, good movie. Both Cage and Travolta are at their best in this one when they're playing the villain.

5. 8MM - An old widow hires a PI to find out if her deceased husband was into snuff films. Yep. Cage plays the PI and is great as he slips into the perverse culture that produces snuff while investigating the crime.

4. Wild at Heart - Cage sings and fights his way through two hours of David Lynch weirdness. Like most Lynch films, if you aren't a fan, you probably won't appreciate all the bizarre shit going on here. The best part may be the fact that the snakeskin jacket came out of Nic's personal wardrobe.

3. Leaving Las Vegas - Nic wins the Academy Award for Best Actor playing a man drinking himself to death who falls in love with the hottest hooker ever. What more is there to say?

2. Lord of War - I could do an underrated post on this entire film. Cage plays Yuri Orlov, a Ukranian immigrant who makes a very good living as an international arms dealer. He manipulates his way into marrying the girl of his dreams and eventually gets hammered with the harsh reality of the career he has chosen. Ethan Hawke and Jared Leto are also great in Lord of War as a pious interpol agent and Yuri's screwed up brother. Yes, I just said Ethan Hawke and Jared Leto did a good job.

1. Raising Arizona - I won't say too much here since I suspect you may be reading more about this film on this blog soon enough, but suffice it to say, Raising Arizona is both Cage and the Coen Brothers' masterpiece.

So there you go. Ten brilliant performances by one of our most underrated actors. Fortunately for us, he isn't underrated in Hollywood. You may have noted that he has worked with the Coen Brothers and David Lynch. Well, they didn't quite make the cut, but he's also worked with Martin Scorsese (Bringing Out the Dead) and Oliver Stone (World Trade Center).

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