Owen G.’s A- review of Nic Cage in Bad Lieutenant says, for once, the mannerisms fit the role:
Except that Cage is now doing his operatic bug-eyed intensity thing because the role actually calls for it. As Terence McDonagh, a homicide cop who is always high on coke and heroin, Cage walks with a crooked slouch and a barely visible tilt of the head; he gives this rogue officer a touch of Igor. McDonagh whips himself into adrenalized states beyond doubt or fear, but he also uses his addictions to be a better cop. He’s a crackhead undercover agent in hell.
And Ebert’s four star review (we already knew he loved the film out of Toronto):
No one is better at this kind of performance than Nicolas Cage. He’s a fearless actor. He doesn’t care if you think he goes over the top. If a film calls for it, he will crawl to the top hand over hand with bleeding fingernails. Regard him in films so various as “Wild at Heart” and “Leaving Las Vegas.” He and Herzog were born to work together. They are both made restless by caution.
So there you have it. Yet another actor to consider in this very crowded race. The Oscar race is truly a Darwinian exercise when a category is as crowded and competitive as this one – if there were twenty slots, no problem filling them. But with only five? Films that are more beloved may trump singular performances in badly reviewed, or “just okay” films. But beloved actor in great performance can trump all. Where does Nic Cage fit into this?¬† One thing is for sure about this film and this actor: he’s getting a strong push by the studio, which, in this case, will make all of the difference.