The Onyx Staff Talks Nicolas Cage

By Onyx Staff | 08/27/2021

Nicolas Cage-  Oddity of Cinema 

by Onyx Staff Member Sean Devine

Perhaps you think of him as an Oscar winner or maybe a man who will do any movie he can, either way, you would be right. The thing is, Nicolas Cage has had an up and down career from winning acclaim and the Best Actor Oscar in Leaving Las Vegas (1995) to his utterly dreadful remake of the Wicker Man (2006), among countless other films. Love him or hate him there has never been anyone else quite like him, and his career is making a comeback of sorts lately. The thing is that Cage is a good actor; he just chooses roles that are sometimes over the top. Cage owes the IRS 6 million dollars in back taxes and taking any and every movie script that comes his way is helping him to pay it off.

Cage started in bit parts in such films as Fast Time at Ridgemont High (1982), Valley Girl (1983), and Rumble Fish (1983). Even back then, Cage was a workhorse acting in six movies in three years from 1982-1984. After getting his feet wet with more minor roles in the mid-’80s, Cage ventured into more significant roles where he stood out from the crowd. In Raising Arizona (1987), he worked with the Coen brothers. In Moonstruck (1987), he co-starred with Cher, who won a Lead Actress Oscar for her role in the film. His career was on the upswing, and great parts were slowly coming his way.

The 90’s Cage kept on going, doing a whopping twenty movies from 1990-1999! After a few duds and tries at comedy, Cage went on to star in Leaving Las Vegas and finally got the Oscar love, winning best actor over Sean Penn, Anthony Hopkins, and Richard Dreyfuss. New Oscar winner, what’s a Cage to do?  If you guessed becoming an action star, you were right! Cage went onto star in high octane action movies: The Rock (1996), Con Air (1997), Face/Off (1997), and Gone in 60 Seconds (2000). While these movies did not offer as high-caliber of opportunities as his Oscar-winning role, all the films were fun rides and earned a lot of money at the box office. Cage was in demand and could pretty much choose any role he wanted now.

Cage seemed to tire of the action roles after 2000, and he started to venture back into dramas with more heart. He starred in The Family Man (2000), Matchstick Men (2003), and Adaptation (2002) which led to his second Oscar nomination. Cage was now a leading man, and all of Hollywood recognized that. He starred as a flaming-headed Ghostrider in two comic book movies and was the main star in two National Treasure films. Around 2010, his limelight faded a bit as Cage acted in a number of smaller movies that didn’t get a theatrical release or went straight to DVD. This sharp decline in his films went on for around seven years. 

You most likely missed most of his movies from 2010-2017, such movies as Seeking Justice (2011), Trespass (2011), Stolen (2012), The Frozen Ground (2013), Rage (2014), Outcast (2014), Left Behind (2014), Dying of the Light (2014), The Runner (2015), Pay the Ghost (2015), The Trust (2016), and Dog Eat Dog (2016). The guy would take any darn role in these times. I am an avid movie watcher and have yet to see any one of these movies. In this period of seven years, Cage was in a staggering twenty-eight films! I am not sure how that is humanly possible. Cage mostly disappeared from the cinemas at that point in time, as his movies were either terrible or never released theatrically. 

Recent films of his are showing that Cage is now picking roles that fit him and his style. Mandy (2018) is a stylized horror/revenge film that is well crafted and highlights Cage in the everyman role. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) has him lending his iconic voice to a film noir Spider-Man in an Oscar-winning animated film. Willy’s Wonderland (2021) has Cage play a mute janitor in a Chuck E. Cheese hellscape; Cage does not utter a single word in the role. In this role, the former Oscar winner kicks the snot out of animatronic characters come to life. The movie is super fun, and Cage chews all the scenery he can. Most recently, there is Pig (2021). Cage is a man who loses his pet pig and wants it back, and he is thrown back into his past life as a famous chef in the process.  

Whether you remember Cage as a great actor, action star, star of crappy films, or a fun guy, I can honestly say I have never seen anyone make as many films and have as much fun as Cage seems to be having. From his first role in 1982  to his most current role in  2021, Cage has been in 99 movies. And yes, there is much more to come. Will he one day garner praise and Oscar love again? I believe he still has some tricks up his sleeve. Good or bad, he will long be remembered and thought of in Hollywood as an essential part of the movie industry and movie-going experience.