April 10, 2014 Slideshows

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Nicolas Cage's 10 Best Movie Roles 

As video-on-demand continues to become the preferred route of distribution for a certain kind of independent film, much is being made of Nicolas Cage's willingness to slum for a paycheck, with recent examples including already-forgotten, small-screen-friendly items like Seeking Justice, Trespass, Stolen, and The Frozen Ground. (His character names in these projects -- Will Gerard, Kyle Miller, Will Montgomery, and Jack Halcombe -- are as interchangeable as the titles of the films.) Aside from citing the obvious appeal of doing work for money (a defense Cage himself brought up in a recent interview with The Guardian), it's also possible to back Cage by acknowledging the consistency with which he's taken on "serious" roles over the years.

David Gordon Green's Joe, which hits limited release this weekend (more details on that here), marks the latest instance of this trend, with Cage giving a reportedly subdued performance as an ex-con named Joe Ransom. In that spirit, we've put together a rundown of some of the actor's finest performances, all of which serve as proof that, though his over-the-top inclinations may make for a side-splitting YouTube compilation, Cage has amassed a career that few contemporary actors can equal. This list is hardly airtight in its exclusivity, so a few honorable mentions ought to go out to a pair of Cage's deliriously uneven auteur collaborations (David Lynch's Wild at Heart, Brian De Palma's Snake Eyes), 1983's Valley Girl, 1987's Moonstruck, and Alex Proyas's Knowing (a favorite of the late Roger Ebert).

--Danny King
"Raising Arizona (1987)

Cage's only collaboration with Joel and Ethan Coen has remained one of the brothers' most well-liked films, a charmingly kooky response to their dead-serious 1984 feature debut, Blood Simple.
"Rumble Fish (pictured) (1983), The Cotton Club (1984), Peggy Sue Got Married (1986)

With these three Francis Ford Coppola films, Cage, a nephew of the famed Godfather director (he adopte
"Leaving Las Vegas (1995)

The performance that earned Cage a Best Actor Oscar, this is the closest thing on the list to an obligatory entry. However, though the self-loathing-alcoholic/well-meaning-hooker set-up is rather
"The Rock (1996), Con Air (pictured) (1997), Face/Off (1997)

Cage's action-movie streak hit something of a peak with this miraculous run in the mid-'90s, which had the actor collaborating with
"Bringing Out the Dead (1999)

Director Martin Scorsese and screenwriter Paul Schrader reunited for this under-appreciated gem, which, featuring one of Cage's most demanding roles, finds the actor channeling both the New Y
"Adaptation (2002)

This second Spike Jonze-Charlie Kaufman collaboration (after Being John Malkovich) presents Cage in a challenging dual-role performance. Writing in the Voice in 2002, J. Hoberman
"Raising Arizona (1987)

Cage's only collaboration with Joel and Ethan Coen has remained one of the brothers' most well-liked films, a charmingly kooky response to their dead-serious 1984 feature debut, Blood Simple.

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