Cage demonstrates why he is one of nation’s most important actors
Nicolas Cage stars in director Michael Sarnoski’s feature film debut, Pig.
July 28, 2021
Every once in a while, an album, a show (Fargo), a film (The Master), an exhibition (Julie Mehretu at the Whitney), or a book (The Road) comes along and slaps me across the face, waking me up.
These days it rarely happens at all, but when it does, it’s usually a film. A few examples of films that got me all worked up are The Tree of Life, Drive, Paul Thomas Anderson’s above-mentioned masterpiece The Master, The House that Jack Built, and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
But then I saw Michael Sarnoski’s feature film debut, Pig, this past weekend. While Judas and the Black Messiah worked for me in a major way, it didn’t give me the fix that Pig did.
Is This the Best Film of 2021?
Before Sarnoski’s landmark debut hit the 10-minute mark, I had a buzz about me that didn’t stop for the rest of the day. It wasn’t just that I got the feeling that Sarnoski is an artist who is going to be in my life for a long time, but by the end I wondered two things: 1) Is Pig the film to beat in 2021? and 2) Is the film’s star, Nicolas Cage, potentially my favorite actor of all time?
And while I could go on detailing everything I enjoyed about the film, I don’t want to give anything away. The best way to go into a movie like this one is with no knowledge or expectations. Instead, I am going to make a case for Nic Cage.
I’ve talked about Cage before in this column many years ago. At that time, it felt as if a younger generation of movie watchers knew of Cage only as a punchline and didn’t realize that he is one of the most important living screen actors America has produced.
Sure, Cage has made an almost uncountable number of not-great films in which he takes risks, makes weird choices, and really goes for it. But decades before Cage was buying islands, going bankrupt, and doing seemingly any movie that paid him a decent salary, he was one of the most sought-after and interesting actors of his generation.
To illustrate, here are some of the important ones: Raising Arizona (Coen Brothers), Moonstruck, Wild at Heart (David Lynch), Leaving Las Vegas, The Rock, Con Air, Face/Off, Snake Eyes (Brian DePalma), Adaptation (Spike Jonze), Matchstick Men (Ridley Scott), Lord of War, World Trade Center (Oliver Stone), Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (Werner Herzog), Kick-Ass, The Frozen Ground, Joe, Dog Eat Dog (Paul Schrader), Mandy, Color Out of Space, and now Willy’s Wonderland and Pig.
Top Cage Performances
I left several other fun and weird movies off that list, but it’s still contains some of the most intriguing and impressive film performances of the last 50 years.
If I were to rank my top five favorite Cage performances in an effort to quantify how great Pig is, it would look something like this: Adaptation, Pig, Leaving Las Vegas, Raising Arizona, and Matchstick Men.
All I’m saying is go see Pig, and if you’ve never seen Adaptation, that’s a must-watch!
Share this article
Lee Brice and more!