When he was great: Honeymoon In Vegas (1992), Leaving Las Vegas (1995), Face/Off (1997), Adaptation (2002)
Since then: The Wicker Man (2006), Ghost Rider (2007), Next (2007), Bangkok Dangerous (2008), The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (2010), Season Of The Witch (2011), Trespass (2011), Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance (2012)
Yes, believe it or not, young moviegoers, the man who’s recently starred in turkeys like The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Season Of The Witch, and Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance was once a great actor. So great, in fact, that he scored two—count them… two—Academy Award nominations, for Leaving Las Vegas and Adaptation. Back in Nicolas Cage’s better days, he was a versatile performer able to bring prestige to cerebral dramas and glossier, dumber action extravaganzas (The Rock). There wasn’t a genre that Cage couldn’t master.
Except for horror. It was Cage’s first foray into the scare genre that began his descent into an abyss of unfittingly campy movies; yes, blame it all on The Wicker Man, the 2006 catastrophe that’s both the worst horror remake imaginable and the home of some truly ridiculous overacting (“The bees! The bees! Aaaahh!”). And from there, it’s been predominantly downhill, with all of those terrible movies you see listed above.
For some, Cage’s newfound inability to steer clear of C-grade schlock is an endearing source of ironic enjoyment and unintentional hilarity, and, to some degree, we fall into that group—hearing the man call someone an “ass-fuck” with real conviction in last year’s Trespass is that rare kind of cinematic pleasure. We’re also unable to catch Leaving Las Vegas on cable and not think, “What the hell happened to Nicolas Cage?”