8 Milestones in the Evolution of Nicolas Cage

Here's how we know things have gotten, let's say, out of hand for Nicolas Cage: No one even bothers to even ask any longer, "What the hell happened to Nicolas Cage?" when one of his new films opens. It's expected! Face it: Nic Cage is going to make movies only worth seeing because Nic Cage has become the equivalent of an alien on display that uses its own feces as an interstellar communication device. Sure, it makes you queasy, but at the same time, it's downright fascinating. Enter this weekend's Drive Angry. How did this happen to the former Oscar winner?! Let's take a look at eight milestones -- not necessarily his best roles (they do exist!), mind you -- that evolved Nicolas Kim Coppola into what he is today.

Best of Times (1981)

First of all, how does this YouTube video not have one billion hits by now? Best of Times, a made-for-TV movie, is Cage's first role where he's not just standing in the background not doing anything (like in Fast Times at Ridgemont High), and he's absolutely insane. Actually, you could make a strong case to stop this list right here; this is pretty much all of the evidence that's needed to explain what we have today. (Also of note: This film also features the debut of the not-quite-as-insane-but-he-sure-tried-a-few-times Christian Slater.)

Valley Girl (1983)

Cage toned down his act -- but just a bit -- for this ode to early '80s California romance (and Modern English songs). Valley Girl is not only Cage's first true starring role, but it's also the first film to feature the name "Nicolas Cage" (as opposed to Coppola) in the credits.

Peggy Sue Got Married (1986)

After some supporting roles in films like Rumble Fish, Racing with the Moon and The Cotton Club, Cage played the breakup role in this movie about Kathleen Turner going back in time. Cage, 10 years younger than Turner, played the role of Turner's husband/boyfriend Charlie Bodell both in the present and past. Here, Cage sings "I Wonder Why." (And yes, that's Jim Carrey singing next to Cage.)

Raising Arizona (1987)

What happened to this guy? Raising Arizona, Joel and Ethan Coen's second film, might just be the best film Cage has ever been a part of. (Though, to be fair, I have yet to see Drive Angry).

Honeymoon in Vegas (1992)

So it begins! I'm well aware that Cage still has two Oscar nominations in his future at this point in his career, but with two of his words spoken in Honeymoon in Vegas -- "airport jail!" -- it somehow registered with Cage that he could just scream a bunch of crap and people would find it entertaining. In fairness, Honeymoon in Vegas isn't terrible (and this scene is kind of funny); it's serviceable enough as a romantic comedy. Nevertheless, it would just lead to a slew of terrible stuff in the future for Nic Cage.

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  • freya says:

    And Wild at Heart? I miss him.

  • Loser says:

    Waking up in the middle of the night having urges to buy a beautiful piece of glass, thats what happened.

  • The Winchester says:

    Is there no Japanese translation of the word "Fever"?
    Such a curious land...

  • Rohit says:

    If you didn't like Con Air or Face-Off(Woo's direction of the church scene is operatic mayhem) despite Nicholas Cage, then you aren't exactly his fan.
    Those movies were crap, But Nic Cage can just up his and our hold of even the most tenuous roles.
    Face it, he's a star. Just 'cause he does any godawful movie doesn't give you any cache to retrospectively trash films like Con Air...whatever its faults, I understand what Simon Pegg's character in that stupid movie with Kirsten Dunst, said about Con Air being the archetypal Hollywood film(trash)(..something that ended with 'John Cussack for the gays').
    Nicholas Cage is a star. He makes bad films awesome.
    No one, not De Niro, Not Brando, not even Day Lewis has a snide-free CV.

  • Scraps says:

    Love that you linked the meltdown from 'Honeymoon in Vegas" at the airport. I love that scene!

  • trista says:

    Lay off Nic Cage! Yes - he's made some stinkers, but what Hollywood star hasn't. I liked Con Air, The Rock, National Treasures 1 & 2. I even like the movie he mad with Bridget Fonda about the guy that won the lottery. I don't like his forays into dark action like Ghost Rider and this new one seems a little too violent for my taste, but I do like him. In fact - I may have been only 1 of 10 people who liked Season of the Witch.

  • Rohit says:

    The restless charisma in Vampire's Kiss and Matchstick Men, the staright arrow role in Kick Ass and his chemistry with Chloe Mortez.
    you do seem to selectively forget his films.

  • Franz Hesselburger says:

    Nick Cage is a master thespian. He makes every role memorable and has made even questionable films 10x better simply by his participation. MR. Cage: I salute you!
    Some actors bend themselves to fit the role and the film they are in, an example would be Daniel Day Louis. This is not a bad thing, however Nick Cage somehow makes any film, any role fit him, and it works. He is THE MASTER PIMP