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Worst To Best: Nicolas Cage

Racing With The Moon (1984)

The Movie: Small-town buddies Nicky (Cage) and Henry (Sean Penn) find their relationship with each other and their lady-friends tested as they prepare to fight in World War II.

So Cage It's Good? With his career flourishing, Cage is clearly savouring the chance to play a little drama. And as the trouble-making Nicky, there’s a bit of that anarchic spirit already on display.

Con Air (1997)

The Movie: Former US Ranger Cameron Poe (Cage) is trapped on an air flight with prisoners who seize control of the plane.

So Cage It's Good? Cage packed on the muscle for his role as Poe, and donned one of the most awesome mullets ever to have graced the silver screen. The result is a meaty action hero we can really root for.

The Weather Man (2005)

The Movie: As weather man David Spritz’s (Cage) career takes off, his family life begins to suffer. When he’s offered a job in New York City, it puts him in a very difficult position…

So Cage It’s Good? Another dramatic turn here, and one that’s as charming as it is affecting. Not just anybody could pull off the role of a weather guy who walks the streets armed with a bow and arrow. Cage makes it look easy.

National Treasure (2004)

The Movie: Swag hunter Benjamin Franklin Gates (Cage) searches for a war chest hidden by the Founding Fathers after the Revolutionary War. Meanwhile, his employer is also on the hunt…

So Cage It’s Good? Cage masters the absolute in subversion – he manages to install himself as the clean cut lead in a family friendly adventure film, despite spending most of his career playing madmen or bloody action stars. And he pulls it off!

Bad Lieutenant (2009)

The Movie: Corrupt detective Terence McDonagh (Cage) investigates the deaths of five Senegalese immigrants in a post-Katrina New Orleans.

So Cage It's Good? Cage hits a manic high with Bad Lieutenant , playing a character so unhinged that he’s flapping violently in the wind. He gets some awesome lines, points a gun at a granny’s head, and starts hallucinating iguanas. Spellbinding.

Bringing Out The Dead (1999)

The Movie: Overworked ambulance worker Frank Pierce (Cage) fights to keep his sanity as he’s haunted by visions of his own failures.

So Cage It's Good? Dishevelled and haggard, Cage is mesmerising as Frank Pierce, more than slightly resembling his Leaving Las Vegas character after several electric shocks. A performance as haunting as the film’s troubling themes.

Red Rock West (1993)

The Movie: Ex-Marine Michael (Cage) drives over 1,000 miles for a job that doesn't exist. He finds himself in a small town, jobless with no money and fading hope. Until he discovers Red Rock Bar.

So Cage It's Good? Another phenomenal dramatic turn, Cage remains quietly bemusement throughout Red Rock , filtering the grim story through under-played humour. He struggles to strike sparks with a flat Lara Flynn Boyle, but the performance remains a triumph.

Moonstruck (1987)

The Movie: The one that got Cage his first bit of awards recognition (from the Golden Globes), as he plays Sonny to Cher’s, er, Cher. Book-keeper Loretta Castorini (Cher) falls for her new fiancé’s brother (Cage).

So Cage It’s Good? Cage proves he has giant kahunas by tackling an outrageous accent – oh, and sharing screentime with prima diva Cher. This is no ordinary man…

Rumble Fish (1983)

The Movie: Rusty James (Matt Dillon) struggles to live up to his image as a streetwise thug, and wishes he was as cool as his older brother, The Motorcycle Boy.

So Cage It's Good? Cage was born to wear a quiff, and the ‘do he rocks in Fish is easily his coolest. It’s the early ‘80s, so he’s still playing second fiddle to bigger names, but here he plays Smokey with quiet intelligence.

His conversation with Rusty at the end of the film (above) is also effortlessly iconic.

Wild At Heart (1990)

The Movie: Ex-con Sailor (Cage) is madly in love with Lula (Laura Dern). Only problem is that Lula’s insane mother has hired a killer to get rid of him…

So Cage It’s Good?
Cage’s affecting performance here is up there as one of his best, even if Lynch never really lets him off the leash. The fact that Cage was by now attracting the likes of Lynch, though, speaks of the status he’d acquired by the early ‘90s.