Today, most fans know Nicolas Cage as a man halves. On the one hand, he is one of the most expressive actors and greatest characters of our time when given the right script. On the other hand, he is the man responsible for some of the most heartwarming and memorable performances in recent history.

Whether he’s playing a fictionalized version of himself The unbearable weight of sheer talent Or a secluded truffle farmer in pigHowever, the tapestry of Cage’s work continues to elicit awe and mystery on par with what he’s even expected to appear in Death Stranding 2. But way back 40 or so years ago, young Nicholas Coppola was striving to make a name for himself as an actor, while dwarfing his uncle, the shadow of the great Francis Ford Coppola. Cage spent most of the ’80s working his way up the calling page, appearing in a number of films that varied wildly in quality. Here are his first 10 films, in order.

Today’s movie

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10 boy in blue

Twentieth Century Studios

1986 boy in blue He saw Cage step into the shoes of Ned Henlan, a troubled young man who became a champion rower. Based on a true story, Cage had real-life characters and events to draw upon in his performance. With the late, great Christopher Plummer also appearing in the movie as the villainous Knox, all the ingredients were in place for a compelling sports-based biopic.

Although it contains all the ingredients needed for a feel-good movie, boy in blue It eventually falters under its genre trappings, and struggles to deliver much outside of retellings of events. Cage himself brought his eccentric charm to the role of Henlan, while Plummer was also very good, considering the material he was given to work with. But overall, I felt like the movie should have been a lot better than what fans ended up with.

Related: The Best Nicolas Cage Movies of the 2000s, Ranked

9 The race with the moon

Sean Penn, Nicolas Cage, Races the Moon
Paramount Pictures

Set in the 1940’s in Mendocino County, California, The race with the moon Follow Henry (Sean Penn) and Nikki (Cage) as they wait to join the Marines at war and leave their girlfriends behind. While Henry grows closer to his girlfriend, Cady, Nicky stirs up trouble elsewhere, straining the relationship between the friends.

The race with the moon It is ultimately a story about doing the right thing and the importance of friendship when facing an uncertain future. Penn and Cage can usually be relied upon in their roles. While this coming-of-age story is moving, it lacks bite, making it a memorable outing even if the experience itself is fun.

8 Cotton Club

Nicolas Cage at the Cotton Club

Cage joined his uncle Francis Ford Coppola for the cotton club, A crime film set in the club of the same name in the 1930s. Richard Gere is Dixie Dwyer’s protagonist in this story. After saving the life of gangster Dutch Schultz, he is drawn into the seedy world that exists in Schultz’s bar, The Cotton Club.

While Dixie finds success, his brother Vincent (played by Cage) goes down a dark path, becoming part of Schultz’s crew and an enemy to the public. There is a lot going on in this movie and not all of it works. The script in particular is a weak point, relying mostly on exposition rather than giving the audience a chance to really invest in the characters. But Coppola’s flair for directing ensures he delivers a movie that’s never boring, especially when it comes to the music.

7 Peggy Sue got married

Peggy Sue is married to Nicolas Cage
Tristar Pictures

another coppola movie, Peggy Sue got married In the centers around Peggy Sue is played with sparkling charm by Kathleen Turner. Peggy is on the verge of a divorce after discovering that her husband Charlie, played by Cage, has been unfaithful to her. When Peggy drowns out her high school reunion, she wakes up to find that she is retaking her senior year of high school.

Deception ensues, however Peggy Sue got married is a love story that focuses on the people we choose and how we sometimes need a reminder of why we feel in love with them in the first place. The movie is an easy watch, as it challenges you to find something not to like about it.

6 Valley girl

Nicolas Cage in Valley Girl

Valley girl Cage’s first proper starring role was in a film where he plays a Hollywood punk who falls in love with Julie, a valley girl. This is a movie that sees the rom-com story in full swing as these very different characters manage to find love against all odds. Cage is fantastic in his role as Randy, bringing a quirky energy to the character that would become the hallmark of his most memorable roles.

As a matter of fact, the entire movie has a wacky, fast-paced energy that makes it very easy to enjoy. No one will remember this as one of the greatest films of our time, but it’s an excellent showcase of Cage and his romantic comedy charm.

5 rattling fish

Nicolas Cage Matt Dillon Rumblefish
Universal Pictures

Mickey Rourke and Matt Dillon play the brothers as Francis Ford Coppola rattling fish. Tough guy Rusty James (Dillon) wants to live up to his brother’s fearsome reputation as a mob boss. But his brother, who is referred to only as The Motorcycle Guy (Rourke) wants to live a more peaceful life.

Cage plays James’ friend “Smokey” whose main contribution to the story is breaking up James and his girlfriend. This story revolves around the relationship between brothers, who now go down different paths, but are violently bound together. Dillon and Rourke are great as brothers, while Cage also makes the most of what he’s given to work with.

4 Birdy

Nicolas Cage in Birdy
Tristar Pictures

Birdy Strange movie. It can best be described as two men who forged a life-long relationship through their mutual fascination with birds, and how the Vietnam War changed the dynamic of their relationship. Matthew Modine plays the titular Birdie, while Cage is his sidekick, Al Columbato.

The movie rests squarely on the shoulders of both men and elevates the seriousness of their relationship. It also walks a tightrope in terms of its tone, oscillating between being dark, sublime, and, at times, eerie. There is no doubting Cage’s commitment to the role, as he removed two of his teeth without anesthesia. but then, Birdy He wouldn’t be nearly as effective without Cage’s presence, as he goes to great lengths to reach and reconnect with his friend.

3 absent-minded

Cher Nicolas Cage Moonstruck

absent-minded It is a very interesting ride from the first frame to the last. Singing icon Cher plays Loretta, a widow who falls in love with her reclusive, hot-tempered young brother, played by Cage.

Cage and Cher are central to the film’s success, and they’re buoyed by a light, fun script and just love. While the film’s themes are romantic, it is first and foremost a comedy, and a funny one at that. Cher got all the plaudits for her performance, even winning her an Academy Award, but Cage was no slouch either, for being just the right amount of crazy while also still being a love interest. The film was a massive critical and commercial success, and is rightfully considered one of the greatest films of the year.

Related: Cher’s best performances, ranked

2 Arizona hike

Nicolas Cage in Raising Arizona
Twentieth Century Studios

Coen Brothers struck gold with Arizona hike, creating a crime comedy with a manic, spiral energy that played perfectly with the strengths of its two heroines, Cage and Holly Hunter. They play a couple who can’t have children or adopt, so they do what everyone else would do in such a situation: kidnap one of the quintuplets born to a local businessman.

This is when fun ensues, as Cage and Hunter’s characters go to great lengths to avoid suspicion and not end up behind bars. The film lives up to the directors’ signature visual style, and a script that starts off full steam and never stops. With the passage of time , Arizona hike It became a somewhat forgotten gem, with Cage, Joel, and Ethan Coen all working on projects that proved memorable in their vast catalogue. Regardless, this 1987 film is a riotous watch worth a look.

1 Fast times at Ridgemont High

Nicholas Cage Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Universal Pictures

Fast times at Ridgemont High is one of the most culturally significant films of the 1980s and remains a classic. But Cage largely had nothing to do with the film’s success, appearing only briefly as one of the cast member’s friends.

despite, Fast times Remember the legendary role of Ben as Jeff Spiccoli, and Jennifer Jason Leigh’s stellar performance as 15-year-old Stacy Hamilton. It’s easy to write this movie off as just another coming-of-age story, but it’s one that explores relationships and sexuality in a way that’s ahead of its time. Often imitated but never duplicated, Fast times It is one of its kind and one of the top ten Nicolas Cage movies.


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