As the critically acclaimed sitcom Community’s fifth season episode “Introduction to Teaching” proved, it is essentially impossible to define, encapsulate or summarize the collected works of Nicolas Cage. A prolific actor who has appeared in 68 released projects since his first on-screen performance in the TV movie Best of Times (and has another seven in various stages of production), Cage won an Academy Award, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Actor in Leaving Las Vegas (1995). He has, however, also received Golden Raspberry nominations for Worst Actor in 2006 (The Wicker Man), 2007 (National Treasure: Book of Secrets), 2011 (Season of the Witch) and 2012 (Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance). Cage also nearly starred in a proposed Tim Burton Superman movie, in part because Cage is widely known as one of the character’s most prominent celebrity fans. He named one of his children Kal-El, after Superman’s original Kryptonian name, and once owned a copy of Action Comics #1, the first appearance of Superman, but sold it in 2011 for over two million dollars, mainly to cover his sizable debts.
Like his uncle, Godfather and Apocalypse Now director Francis Ford Coppola, and his cousins, director Sofia Coppola and actor Jason Schwartzman, Cage has made a lasting career in Hollywood and left an indelible impression on pop culture. Despite his fame and many roles, however, Cage continues to mystify viewers and critics alike. To borrow Winston Churchill’s description of Soviet foreign policy, Cage is a puzzle inside a riddle wrapped in an enigma. Is he, as Roger Ebert once argued in his Great Movies essay on Adaptation, the equal of De Niro, Pacino and Nicholson in their primes, or, as Sean Penn mused, “no longer an actor” and instead “more like a performer?” Take a look at these pictures from every single one of his films (excluding the five for which he provided his voice only - Christmas Carol (2001), The Ant Bully, G-Force, Astro Boy and The Croods), and decide for yourself.