10 Massively Underrated 1990s Movie Performances
9. Nicholas Cage As Tom Welles - 8MM
Late in his career, it can be hard to recall how huge a force of nature Nicholas Cage once was onscreen. The nephew of Godfather helmer Francis Ford Coppola, Cage spent the nineties as a blockbuster-tier leading man who could stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Bruce Willis and Harrison Ford thanks to flicks like Con Air and The Rock.
Meanwhile, the actor also enjoyed a stellar reputation as a serious method actor and the star of a wide range of more artistic, experimental flicks from Vampire’s Kiss to Leaving Las Vegas. For a while there, it seemed inconceivable that the actor would ever end up as the straight-to-DTV meme lord he’s now known as.
The two sides of his onscreen abilities are showcased in Joel Schumacher’s grimy 1998 thriller 8MM. Alongside a young, effortlessly charming Joaquin Phoenix and Peter Stormare in full Leering Villain Mode, Cage plays a private eye investigating a snuff film ring, and the actor more than convinces in a role as challenging as it is dark.
It would have been as easy role to overdo and the film would suffer were the character too reserved and stoic, so it’s all the more impressive that Cage can vacillate between sombre seething and moments of explosive emotion with grace and verve, anchoring a potentially outlandish and exploitative plot with soul and believable heft.