There is endless debate about whether or not Nicolas Cage is a quote "good actor" unquote.

We ran a poll back in 2018 that asked the question of the ages and the results were surprisingly narrow. While 59% of people on Facebook said he was a good actor, just 53.3% of people on Twitter said he was a good actor.

With that in mind and because it's his 56th birthday, we've compiled our five favourite scenes of Nicolas Coppola / Cage's career.

Take a look.

 

5. 'Mandy' - The bathroom scene

Unfortunately, no clip exists of this scene on YouTube and, to be honest, that's probably a good thing. The level of Cage-ness in this scene is probably too much for a video platform to handle, even one as powerful and encompassing as YouTube. The level of raw, unfiltered emotion that just blows out of Cage's character in this one scene really shows what an incredible actor he is. More to the point, there are so few actors who would really go this far and give this much of themselves. Cage often gets knocked for how over-the-top he is, but nobody gives him the credit for going that far all the time.

 

4. 'Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans' - "Shoot him again... his soul is still dancing."

There are so many moments in Werner Herzog's semi-sequel of 'Bad Lieutenant', but the one that sticks out for sheer absurdity mixed with crime thriller genre tropes is right here. Cage's batshit police detective is working on nailing the mastermind behind a bloody massacre and in order to do so, he lights up a crack pipe and then offers it to him. Just after this, a group of mobsters appear on the scene and a blink-and-you'll-miss-it gunfight takes place, ending with Cage's character imploring him to shoot again. Why? Because he can see someone dancing over his dead body. It's the level of conviction in it that just makes it all the weirder.

3. 'Moonstruck' - "I lost my hand! I lost my bride!"

At just 23, Nicolas Cage's ability to dredge up long-gone horrors and anguish was incredible. Much is made of how good Cher's performance in 'Moonstruck' was, and there's no denying that she gave easily her most memorable performances. In spite of that, Cage is her equal in every scene and in this infamous scene, we see just how far and how deep the emotions that Cage's character feels, and how he can't help himself by bottling it up.

 

2. 'Lord of War' - "I'm a necessary evil."

'Lord of War' is unquestionably the defining movie about the global arms trade, and it's telling that the face of it is Nicolas Cage at his most charming, aloof, good-natured, and (no pun intended) disarming. This scene, right towards the end, sees his colourful arms dealer character nailed at long last by the idealistic Interpol agent, played by Ethan Hawke. While Hawke's character gives him both barrels, Cage's character quietly sits and takes it, before calmly explaining how the world works and how he'll never see a day in prison. It's a terrifying scene, because it perfectly encapsulates the moral bankruptcy at the heart of 'Lord of War', and the global arms trade in reality.

 

 

 

1. 'Leaving Las Vegas' - "I thought... I might move out to Las Vegas."

While Nicolas Cage may have won his only Oscar for 'Leaving Las Vegas', it's by far one of the most deserving wins in the history of the ceremony. The way in which Cage demonstrated how utterly broken his character was, how it informed every single scene he was in, and how it shaped the entire story, is incredible. This scene, from the early part of the movie, really does line up with where it's all headed. When we first see him, he's holding a phone upside-down and bullshitting his way through a conversation, but when he's confronted by the stony-faced film studio executive - who just so happens to be called Mr. Simpson, possibly in reference to Don Simpson - we see that heartbreaking vulnerability come out. He sets himself on the path, there and then, to drink himself to death. Before, he'd only been doing it without any real meaning, but now, in this moment, he affirms it to himself.