From Raising Arizona to The Wicker Man, the Five Cagiest Nicolas Cage Films of All Time

Nicolas Cage is no mere actor -- he is a transcendental film force. He's fully capable of delivering a subtle, deep reading of a character, but he is at his best -- at his most Cage -- when he is truly cutting loose, chewing scenery and taking no prisoners. His "serious" acting chops earned him a shelf full of awards, including an Oscar for Leaving Las Vegas, but what has earned him a rabid cult following is his sheer, manic onscreen insanity. With The Church of Coen presents: Raising Arizona at Syntax Physic Opera on Sunday, February 8, Denver Cage fans will get a chance to see where it all began, and that offers us an opportunity to reflect on the films that built the legend of Cage. These aren't his best films, mind you -- these are the films in which his unique genius and singular acting style (self-described as "nouveau shamanic") are on bold display, shouting to the world, "I am CAGE, hear me roar."

See also: From Blade Runner to : What the Hell Happened to Ridley Scott?

5) Raising Arizona

It can be argued that there is no more important film than

Raising Arizona

, for it introduced the world at large to not one, but two of the greatest forces in contemporary cinema. Yes, both the Coens and Cage had made other films before it, but to this day the Coens' debut

Blood Simple

is criminally overlooked. As for Cage, he was certainly solid in his handful of films predating

Raising Arizona

, but this was the first time he delivered such a memorable, fully invested character as H.I. McDunnough. In scene after scene, the Cage delivers, selling out 100 percent and delivering on the role in a way few actors can. It wouldn't be the same movie without him, and that's about as high praise as any actor can ever expect.

4) Vampire's Kiss

Here we see the first inklings of the true insanity of the full-blown Cage experience, in the role of a literary agent named Peter Loew who's bitten by what he believes is a vampire, precipitating a descent into madness. Or maybe vampirism. Who can say? Affecting a ridiculous accent and throwing himself, sometimes literally, into every scene, Cage has never been more ludicrous -- or more awesome -- than he was in this film. Only he could deliver lines like, "Well, I did murder someone last night. I turn into a vampire. It's a long story" with complete conviction. And talk about doing whatever it takes to deliver! He even ate a live cockroach to bring this completely insane film to life. That's dedication.

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