Recently, the question of whether or not Nicolas Cage is a good actor has come up frequently. Is he a legitimately good actor, a good actor in the “Tommy Wiseau” sense, a bad actor, or an actor that cannot be measured by any standard of quality as Dan Harmon’s Community recently suggested? Commonly cited in Cage-Theory is that he is either a good actor who suffered a Shyamalan-esque fall in grace due to a lack of consistency in his ability, or that his fall can be attributed to the tremendously poor roles he has chosen within the last decade. I find myself in the latter camp. The Wicker Man, Ghost Rider (1 and 2), The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, all of these films are unquestionably awful pieces of cinema that Cage happens to be a part of, and those are just a few I’ve named. There are countless other terrible Cage films that have been released in the past, and it looks like countless more are on the way as well. But when you stop to think about it, is that really a bad thing?
One of the trademark aspects of Cage in these movies are the “extravagant” performances he has for them. He is usually screaming, yelling, swearing, and tearing away at the audience’s sensibilities with his performances. It is not as if Cage is incapable of restrained and more subtle roles (to which he has an Academy Award to show for it), but in these films he just pushes every boundary he can. Without question though, these manic performances are always the highlight of these otherwise awful films. Cage puts his all into these terrible roles and manages to salvage some enjoyability in them by injecting life into his performance. You think even a highly acclaimed actor like Daniel Day Lewis could have turned The Wicker Man around, or at least make the film half as entertaining as Cage did? Hell no he couldn’t because there is no other actor who can capture the look, inflection, and movements that are Cage. No one else can make something as simple as reciting the alphabet remotely interesting, whereas Cage turns doing just that into a runner for the comedic performance of the year.
Yes, Nicolas Cage takes a lot of bad roles, but if he didn’t someone else would, and it is very doubtful that they would make the film better. Cage is the highly skilled actor that will take bad roles and make them significantly more interesting than they would have been with nearly any other actor. He is the actor that will jump on a metaphorical grenade for you and lower the damage from the explosion. Cage is the actor that can turn a pile of garbage into an endlessly rewatchable cult classic just from the energy he charges into every one of his performances. Nicolas Cage is definitely not a bad actor, and he isn’t just a good actor either. Nicolas Cage is a Hero of Cinema, so don’t you dare forget that.
Required Cage Viewings:
Quote of the Day:
Shirley: Maybe he’s just good in good movies and then acts crazy in crap to make drug money.
Abed: But is he good, or is he bad? Every actor is something. Robert Downey Jr.: good, Jim Belushi: bad. Van Damme: the good kind of bad, Johnny Depp: the bad kind of good. There’s a spectrum, and Cage is on it. I just have to find him.