Ranking every Nicolas Cage movie from worst to best can be fairly challenging, given the fact that the Hollywood star has starred in a diverse array of films of varying merit. Nothing short of a cultural tour-de-force, Nicolas Cage has managed to acquire a dedicated cult following over the years, whilst winning various accolades including an Academy Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and a Golden Globe. Cage’s most recent cinematic offering, Pig, garnered massive critical acclaim, owing to his incredibly nuanced and ground performance.
However, when it comes to Cage, a string of not-so-great roles have granted him a bad movie streak, thanks to clunky, unconvincing narratives and poorly-conceived straight-to-video films. Seminal among these is Deadfall, Left Behind, and Pay The Ghost, among which the first two can be deemed as downright unwatchable. Having said that, it is important to acknowledge that Cage is no stranger to portraying strong, complex characters, as evidenced in his revenge-fueled, yet pathos-inducing rendition of Red in Panos Cosmatos’ heavy metal valentine, Mandy.
Underwhelming performances aside, there is a plethora of Cage films that deserve praise and consideration, maybe even a reconsideration in terms of its character analysis and overarching merit. In order to better understand the staggering range of the man, along with the many, many missteps he has taken over the years, here is every Nicolas Cage movie, ranked from worst to best. This ranking excludes television appearances and short documentaries, in order to keep a more streamlined focus on full-length features he has starred in so far.
Holding a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, Christopher Coppola’s Deadfall has been deemed a shallow attempt at mimicking the noir genre, as everything ranging from the plot and the characters can only be described as abysmal. Deadfall is a unique crime drama about con artist Joe Donan (Michael Biehn), who, after the death of his father, attempts to find a lookalike in order to carry out a sting operation. Cage plays the character of Eddie King, a role he would reprise in the 2017 film, Arsenal, which also bombed critically due to the clichéd nature of the narrative.
92. Left Behind
Directed by Vic Armstrong, Left Behind is based on the eponymous novel by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, and stars Cage, Chad Michael Murray, Nicky Whelan, and Lea Thompson. Left Behind has been bashed by critics and audiences alike, mostly due to the wide range of wooden performances, atrocious script, and overwrought pacing. Needless to say, Left Behind can be counted as one of the many films that have lent a considerable blemish to Cage’s once-flourishing and commendable filmography.
91. Grand Isle
Yet another massively underwhelming Cage film, Grand Isle follows a young man named Buddy (Luke Benward), who is charged with murder and must find a way to prove his innocence before it is too late. In this 2019 action thriller, Cage assumes the role of Walter, a hard-drinking Vietnam veteran haunted by a traumatic past. While Cage does belt out a satisfactory performance as Walter, Grand Isle, when scrutinized as an entity on its own, fails to hold up due to its weak plotlines, predictable twists, and incongruous ending.
Yet another abysmal direct-to-video offering, 211 is a crime-action film directed by York Shackleton. Set in the fictional city of Chesterford, 211 is a reference to the police code for robbery, as the film essentially follows a bank heist that goes horribly south. Cage stars as the lackluster patrolman Mike Chandler, which does little to salvage an already muddled storyline and a virtually indistinguishable cast of characters. David Ehrlich of Indiewire went on to dub 211 as an “inept heist film“, while most other critics slammed the film as disjointed and uninspiring.
89. Trapped in Paradise
George Gallo’s Christmas-themed crime comedy, Trapped in Paradise, stars Cage as New York City restaurant manager, Bill Firpo, with Jon Lovitz, and Dana Carvey as the supporting cast. The film garnered mostly negative reviews, although some critics and audiences attributed Lovitz’s performance as one of the only reasons for the film’s watchability factor. When it comes to Cage, he delivers a rather lukewarm performance, and Trapped in Paradise remains wholly unfunny and too on-the-nose with its goofiness and sentimentality.
Steven C. Miller’s direct-to-video action-thriller, Arsenal, sees Cage reprise his role as Eddie King from 1993’s Deadfall, with Adrian Grenier, John Cusack, and Jonathan Schaech acting as supporting characters. Even before diving into the nitty-gritties of Arsenal, it is almost impossible to ignore Cage’s altered avatar – a mustachioed visage replete with gaudy prosthetics, complemented by an empty, manic energy brought into the role. Arsenal has been deemed by critics as too flashy, superficial, and try-hard, as neither the action sequences nor the miscast set of characters are able to invest anything meaningful into the film.
Nick Powell’s directorial debut, Outcast, follows young commander Jacob (Hayden Christensen) during the Crusades, who leads an army including Gallain (Cage) right into the heart of the slaughter of an Arab city, much to the distress of the latter. Outcast garnered generally unfavorable reviews, as the film was criticized for its inconsistent tone and genuinely befuddling performances, especially in the case of Cage. While Outcast was praised by some critics due to its arresting visuals and well-crafted battle sequences, the odyssey, as a whole, was a complete letdown in many ways.
Joel Schumacher‘s Trespass stars Cage and Nicole Kidman as the Millers, a married couple taken hostage by extortionists, also starring Ben Mendelsohn, Cam Gigandet, Liana Liberato, and Jordana Spiro. Although mainstream critics praised Kidman and Mendelsohn’s performances, Cage earned a Razzie nomination for Worst Actor, although he lost to Adam Sandler for Jack and Jill. In terms of overall merit, Trespass comes off as yet another unpleasant thriller with a stilted script and uneven pacing.
85. Bangkok Dangerous
Written and directed by the Pang brothers, Bangkok Dangerous is a remake of the 1999 Thai film of the same name, with Cage assuming the role of a professional freelance contract killer, Joe. Despite the remake receiving negative reviews from critics, Cage’s performance in Bangkok Dangerous was praised for its refreshing understatedness. However, Cage’s moody presence in this action-crime thriller is not enough for audiences to overlook its dull storyline and meandering pace.
84. Pay the Ghost
Uli Edel’s supernatural horror film, Pay the Ghost, follows Mike Lawford (Cage), a professor frantically searching for his son Charlie, who was abducted during a Halloween parade. The film stands at 10% on Rotten Tomatoes, primarily criticized for its generic storyline and sleep-inducing pacing. Unfavorably comparing it to Insidious, critic Brian Tallerico deemed Pay the Ghost as a “new low” for Cage.
83. Season of the Witch
Dominic Sena’s Season of the Witch falls under the category of unintentional comedy, although it follows the perfectly serious premise of two Teutonic Knights (Cage and Hellboy‘s Ron Perlman), who return from the Crusades to find their homeland completely and utterly ruined by the Black Death, said to have been caused by an evil witch’s curse. Season of the Witch was panned by critics and audiences alike for its cheap-looking sets and drab storyline, along with Cage’s performance which some critics opine, borders on parody. Even when viewed through the lens of B-movie schlock and aesthetics, Season of the Witch is not an impressive addition to Cage’s filmography, as it earned him a Razzie nomination for the same.
82. Vengeance: A Love Story
Johnny Martin’s 2017 action-thriller, Vengeance: A Love Story, is based on Joyce Carol Oates’ 2003 novel, Rape: A Love Story, and stars Nicolas Cage, Don Johnson, Anna Hutchison, Talitha Bateman, and Deborah Kara Unger. Apart from Bateman’s performance, Vengeance is a rather melodramatic rendition of an otherwise somber tale, with plot contrivance trumping genuine stakes and meaningful takeaways.
81. Time To Kill
Set in 1936 Ethiopia, which was under Italian invasion during the time, Time to Kill follows Lieutenant Silvestri, who decides to reach the nearest camp hospital after suffering a toothache. Apart from helming a strange premise, the film tries on to deliver on too many out-of-kilter ideas, and the result is a shoddy, haphazard mess.
80. Army of One
Army of One follows Gary Faulkner, an ex-construction contractor and unemployed handyman who believes that God has sent him to capture Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. The story is based on the real-life Faulkner, who traveled to Pakistan looking for Bin Laden, and stars Nicolas Cage, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Rainn Wilson, Russell Brand, Denis O’Hare, Paul Scheer, and Will Sasso. Needless to say, the film received negative reviews for its problematic execution and terrible acting.
79. Dying of the Light
Paul Schrader’s Dying of the Light suffered a somewhat disappointing fate, as much controversy surrounds the alleged heavy tampering and re-editing of the footage, as Schrader was denied the final-cut privilege. As a result of this, both Schrader and principal cast members including Cage disowned the film, and Dying of the Light went on to receive extremely negative reviews. It is important to note that Cage’s performance is decent as rogue CIA operative Evan Lake, who battles dementia as he pursues an old tormentor.
78. Looking Glass
Tim Hunter’s Looking Glass follows Ray (Cage) and Maggie (Robin Tunney), who lose their child to an accident and are looking for a fresh start. While the overall performances in Looking Glass were classified by critics as decent, the film in itself does not make for a satisfying or thrilling watch. Described as a “murder mystery without enough suspects“, Looking Glass can be safely added to a long list of Nicolas Cage movies that barely manage to scratch the surface of mediocrity.
77. Tokarev (Rage)
Tokarev, also known as Rage, was directed by Paco Cabezas and stars Nicolas Cage, Rachel Nichols, Peter Stormare, and Danny Glover. Cage plays Paul Maguire, who, along with his buddies Kane and Danny, live a life of crime and attempt to ambush a Russian mobster for cash. Despite the apparently thrilling premise, Tokarev falls short on all fronts, as it is unable to sustain the energy it implicitly promises to deliver.
76. Fire Birds
David Green’s Fire Birds‘ storyline was conceived by retired Lt. Colonels Step Tyner and John K. Swensson and stars Nicolas Cage alongside Tommy Lee Jones and Sean Young. Cage assumes the role of Jake Preston, a helicopter pilot attempting to dismantle a drug cartel in South America, while Jones plays his instructor offering flight training during the process. Most critics harkened Fire Birds to a video game montage as opposed to a serious, meritorious movie, while unfavorably comparing its aerial flight sequences to that of the explosively popular Top Gun. All in all, Fire Birds is predictable in more ways than one, with the clunky and unnatural dialogue further alienating the film from achieving praise.
75. A Score to Settle
A Score to Settle follows a formulaic action-thriller plot, with Frank Carver (Cage), a young gangster, witnessing his boss Max execute a former ally, after which Frank is asked to take the fall. However, when his originally-limited jail time turns into a life sentence, Frank vows to track his former boss down and exact revenge. Bereft of genuine thrills or memorable characters, A Score to Settle gets crushed under the weight of a plethora of revenge thrillers, with the action sequences falling short even when they are helmed by an enthusiastic Cage.
74. Amos & Andrew
Written and directed by E. Max Frye, Amos & Andrew is a 1993 black comedy film starring Nicolas Cage and Samuel L. Jackson. Shot in Wilmington, North Carolina, Amos & Andrew follows wealthy playwright Andrew Starling (Jackson), who purchases a summer home on a predominantly white island. Apart from garnering negative criticism for its misguided attempt at treating serious issues such as racial injustice and police brutality with comedic effect, Amos & Andrew failed at the box office despite featuring a fairly solid first act and scattered instances of scathing social commentary.
73. USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage
Mario Van Peebles’ USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage is based on a predominantly true story of the loss of the eponymous ship in the closing stages of World War II. The film stars Nicolas Cage as Captain Charles B. McVay III, along with Tom Sizemore, Thomas Jane, Matt Lanter, Brian Presley, and Cody Walker. The film was also critically panned due to its lack of convincing characters, attention-to-detail, and noteworthy performances.
72. The Wicker Man
A remake of the brilliant and eerie 1973 folk horror of the same name, The Wicker Man concerns police offer Edward Malus (Cage), whose ex-fiancée Willow informs him that her daughter, Rowan, has disappeared, asking him to aid in her search. While the film follows the plot of the original source material and the British film fairly closely, the results are nothing short of hilarious, thanks to Cage’s unhinged acting which is excruciatingly bad and wildly entertaining at the same time. Needless to say, the infamous “Bees!” sequence, along with that of Cage discovering the burned doll has elevated into the tier of internet memes.
71. Ghost Rider & Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is a standalone sequel to the 2007 Ghost Rider, featuring Cage reprising his role as Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider, with supporting roles portrayed by Ciarán Hinds, Violante Placido, Johnny Whitworth, Christopher Lambert, and Idris Elba. Both Ghost Rider and Spirit of Vengeance received unfavorable reviews from critics due to their shoddy CGI and slapdash humor, although the sequel was deemed even poorer than the first film, which had its fair share of campiness and cartoonish appeal.
Directed by Simon West, Stolen is a 2012 action-thriller starring Nicolas Cage, Danny Huston, Malin Åkerman, M.C. Gainey, Sami Gayle, Mark Valley, and Josh Lucas. Stolen follows former thief Will Montgomery, who needs to race against time in order to attain $10 million and save his family within a time period of 12 hours. Stolen received mixed to average reviews, although neither the plot nor the performances stand out in a noteworthy manner.
Directed by Lee Tamahori, Next is a sci-fi action thriller starring Nicolas Cage, Julianne Moore, Jessica Biel, Thomas Kretschmann, Tory Kittles, and Peter Falk. Loosely based on Philip K. Dick’s short story, “The Golden Man”, Next tells the tale of Vegas magician Cris Johnson whose gift of precognition makes him the target of a terrorist group. Next received mixed reviews, as the film crumbles and rushes towards a conclusion that can only be termed as absurd. While the premise of precognition, especially birthed by the same author, led to promising offerings like Minority Report, Next is unable to flesh out its source material in a meaningful or interesting manner.
Sonny is a 2002 American crime-drama film starring James Franco, Harry Dean Stanton, Brenda Blethyn, Mena Suvari, and Josie Davis. Based on a screenplay by John Carlen, the film marked Cage’s directorial debut, although he also makes a cameo appearance. The film received mixed reviews due to its scattered storytelling, although it was favored by Tommy Wiseau, who, after watching the film, had faith in Franco’s acting abilities for The Disaster Artist.
67. The Runner
The Runner is a 2015 American political drama film written and directed by Austin Stark. The film stars Nicolas Cage, Connie Nielsen, Peter Fonda, and Sarah Paulson, and follows the aftermath of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. An idealistic politician (Cage) is forced to confront his dysfunctional life after his career is destroyed in a sex scandal. The film received lukewarm reviews due to its dull execution and lackluster appeal.
66. Kill Chain
Directed by Ken Sanzel, Kill Chain is a 2019 neo-noir action thriller, starring Cage as a mercenary-turned-hotel owner in Colombia, with Enrico Colantoni, Anabelle Acosta, Angie Cepeda, Eddie Martinez, Alimi Ballard, and Ryan Kwanten in supporting roles. The film was criticized for its convoluted plot development, although some critics have deemed the action sequences impressive, and the overall experience taut and entertaining. However, it was a pretty surface-level affair without much humor or warmth, and that warrants Kill Chain‘s lower place in the list.
65. Running With The Devil
Written and directed by Jason Cabell and starring Cage in the role of The Cook, Running with the Devil is a 2019 American crime thriller film with actor Laurence Fishburne, Leslie Bibb, and Barry Pepper as the supporting cast. While the film received negative to mixed reviews, Running with the Devil offered an interesting premise, along with a subtle commentary on the pervasiveness and destructive nature of the drug trade. Apart from this, it is also interesting to witness the chemistry between Cage and Fishburne, although their respective roles are much smaller than one would expect them to be.
64. Seeking Justice
Also known as Justice, Roger Donaldson’s Seeking Justice stars Cage, January Jones, and Guy Pearce. This Nicolas Cage film sees the actor assume the role of Will Gerard, a humble high school teacher, whose wife, Laura, gets brutally assaulted by a stranger named Hodge (Alex Van). This incident jumpstarts a journey for retribution, making way for palatable decent twists, culminating in a film marginally better than most mystery thrillers and potboilers. However, Cage earned yet another Razzie nomination for this role.
63. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin
Based on the 1994 novel of the same name, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin is a 2001 war film that pays homage to the Italian soldiers executed at the Massacre of the Acqui Division by German forces in Cephalonia in September 1943, and to the people of Cephalonia who were killed in the post-war earthquake. However, as the film deviates from the novel to a certain extent, and softens the tragedies for cinematic purposes, the result is a fast and loose tale that pushes the edges of credibility and evokes an air of detachment. Despite its flaws, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin features gorgeous cinematography and offers a love story that is relatable.
62. The Humanity Bureau
Yet another mediocre Cage film, The Humanity Bureau is a 2018 Canadian science fiction thriller film directed by Rob W. King. While the premise of the film is interesting on paper, as it deals with the future of humanity and the perils of political conflict, The Humanity Bureau fails to engage its audiences due to a slow, clunky plot and uninspired performances from its leads.
Another direct-to-video offering, Sam Pillsbury’s Zandalee is an erotic thriller starring Nicolas Cage, Judge Reinhold, Erika Anderson, Viveca Lindfors, Aaron Neville, Joe Pantoliano, and Steve Buscemi. Zandalee holds a 33% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with most critics of the view that the film works best as an inadvertent hilarity for those devoted to Cage’s film work, as it is often jarring to witness heavyweight actors such as Buscemi devote themselves to a role so riddled with absurd extremity.
Primal is a 2019 action-thriller film directed by Nick Powell, starring Nicolas Cage, Famke Janssen, Kevin Durand, LaMonica Garrett, and Michael Imperioli. Primal follows skilled big-game hunter Frank Walsh (Cage), who specializes in rare and dangerous species, having caught an extremely rare white jaguar in the rainforests of Brazil. Although it does not offer anything groundbreaking, Primal has its moments of thrill, and Cage embodies his role fairly well.
Hoyt Yeatman’s G-Force stars Zach Galifianakis, Bill Nighy, and Will Arnett while featuring the voices of Sam Rockwell, Tracy Morgan, Penélope Cruz, Jon Favreau, Nicolas Cage, and Steve Buscemi. While Cage does not explicitly appear in the film, he lends his voice to the character of Speckles, a cyber-intelligent star-nosed mole, considered the brains of G-Force. G-Force garnered mixed reviews, although critics dubbed it as “pleasant“, albeit lacking a solid plot, as the film is largely overwrought by manic action.
58. The Boy In Blue
Directed by Charles Jarrott, The Boy in Blue is based on Toronto sculler Ned Harlan (Cage). While the film was at the receiving end of harsh critical reviews, which deemed the athlete drama as trite and obligatory, The Boy in Blue is a simple tale of a talented individual, invested with middling sentimentality typical of ’80s melodrama, although it is a perfectly acceptable, slow-burn unfolding about dream-fulfillment and passion.
57. Drive Angry
Cage stars as John Milton in Drive Angry, a man who returns from Hell after ten years to save his granddaughter. He steals Satan’s personal gun, the Godkiller, as he finds the idea of being forced to watch his daughter’s murder intolerable. So far, so Nicolas Cage vehicle – and this whole movie is best taken with a pinch of salt (and a glug of gasoline). Overall, Drive Angry is rammed with impressive action scenes, although it is lacking in terms of a coherent and compact plot, which it attempts to make up for with visual and thematic excesses. If grindhouse themes are what appeal to the viewer, Drive Angry proves to be an enjoyable, albeit uneven viewing experience.
Directed by Jonathan Baker and written by Chloe King, Inconceivable stars Gina Gershon, Faye Dunaway, Nicolas Cage, Nicky Whelan, and Natalie Eva Marie. Although the cast does what they possibly can with the material given to them, the script is poorly constructed, while Baker’s direction imbues the film with a kind of somnolence that cannot be overcome or ignored. However, a majority of the audience found Inconceivable a satisfying watch, owing to the heartrending subject matter of the film and the genuine excitement evoked by its many twists and turns.
55. The Trust
Directed by Alex and Ben Brewer, The Trust is a black comedy that follows a traditional heist plotline, starring Cage as the bored and disillusioned Lieutenant Jim Stone, who comes across a mysterious case with the potential to generate large amounts of money. Also starring Elijah Wood, Sky Ferreira, Jerry Lewis, Kevin Weisman, and Steven Williams, The Trust received average reviews and was praised for its taut pacing, with the chemistry between Wood and Cage being deemed satisfactory for genre enthusiasts.
54. Between Worlds
Maria Puler’s Between Worlds is a supernatural thriller inspired by Lynchian surrealism, and it follows the tale of Joe (Cage), a truck driver haunted by the memory of his deceased wife and child. Garnering divided reviews, Between Worlds was praised for its fascinating characters and bizarrely beautiful development, with some critics praising Cage’s portrayal of Joe. Despite its flaws, the film offered a refreshing take on the often-hackneyed tropes of the supernatural genre, venturing boldly into the terrain of the weird and wonderful without being too pretentious or on-the-nose.
53. Gone in Sixty Seconds
Gone in Sixty Seconds is a 2000 American action heist film starring Nicolas Cage, Angelina Jolie, Giovanni Ribisi, Christopher Eccleston, Robert Duvall, and Will Patton. Despite critical panning, Gone in Sixty Seconds did favorably well in the box office, and garnered a 77% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. While the film does feature a plot that does not make coherent sense, for the most part, the stylistic aspects and fast car sequences have elevated the plot to that of a cult classic, with particular praise being directed towards Cage’s performance as Randall Raines.
Director John Woo‘s 2002 war film, Windtalkers, is based on the real story of Navajo code talkers during World War II and stars Nicolas Cage, Adam Beach, Peter Stormare, Noah Emmerich, Mark Ruffalo, and Christian Slater. When viewed in its entirety, Windtalkers builds itself upon a solid premise but loses its way halfway through by being one-dimensional and derivative like most run-of-the-mill war sagas. Moreover, little to no meaningful focus is granted to Navajo characters, and Woo explained that the film was intended to be about an individual fighting their demons instead of a typical American saga about heroism.
51. National Treasure: Book of Secrets
National Treasure: Book of Secrets is the direct sequel to 2004’s National Treasure, starring Cage as treasure hunter Benjamin “Ben” Franklin Gates, with Diane Kruger, Justin Bartha, Jon Voight, Harvey Keitel, Ed Harris, Bruce Greenwood, and Helen Mirren. Circling around the Lincoln assassination, Book of Secrets was generally well-received by audiences, especially due to the even pacing and well-timed comedic sequences in the film. Critically, the film received mixed reviews, as its plot resembled the first film a bit too much, and wasted much of its stellar cast’s potential via underutilization.
Directed and co-produced by Alex Proyas, Knowing is a sci-fi thriller starring Nicolas Cage as John Koestler, with Rose Byrne, Chandler Canterbury, and Ben Mendelsohn in supporting roles. Knowing received mixed reviews, although it is one of the better movies in terms of Cage’s film performance, along with the fact that it is visually arresting in a uniquely atmospheric way. However, Knowing was criticized for a few narrative implausibilities here and there, and an ending that was considered a major letdown.
49. National Treasure
The first installment in the National Treasure series was directed by Jon Turtletaub and starred Sean Bean and Christopher Plummer apart from the central cast. Cage, a collector of ancient artifacts, embarks on a quest to decode a hidden map on the Declaration of Independence, but he soon finds that he is not the only one after the coveted historical document. While the screenplay was criticized, National Treasure remains a wholly entertaining film, replete with exciting acting sequences and decent performances by Cage and Bean, in particular.
48. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
Herry Bruckheimer’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice stars Cage as Balthazar Blake, a sorcerer in modern-day Manhattan, who fights against the forces of evil while focusing on his arch-nemesis Maxim Horvath (Alfred Molina). In search of a chosen one dubbed The Prime Merlinean, Balthazar crosses paths with physics student Dave Stutler (Jay Baruchel), who he reluctantly takes in as his apprentice. While the film is overwrought with cliches abundant in standard fantasy tales, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is a CGI spectacle that can make for good, campy fun. Moreover, the cast works well within the ambit of the premise, and it is interesting to see Cage don the role of the powerful, yet eccentric Balthazar.
47. Snake Eyes
Snake Eyes is a 1998 conspiracy thriller, produced and directed by Brian De Palma. The film stars Cage as Detective Nick Santoro, who finds himself investigating an assassination at a boxing match in Atlantic City. Snake Eyes has a unique brand of energetic style to it, even though the film might come off as a celebration of style over substance, due to its hollow exploration of the narrative. However, as typical of most De Palma movies, Snake Eyes is a visual feast, complemented by fun, dynamic performances that grant a larger-than-life feel to the narrative as a whole.
46. Dog Eat Dog
Paul Schrader’s black comedy action thriller, Dog Eat Dog is based on Edwar Bunker’s 1995 novel of the same name and stars Cage and fellow acting icon Willem Dafoe in principal roles. While not exactly groundbreaking in terms of its subject matter, Dog Eat Dog combines visual style with measured substance, while managing to introduce unhinged elements that work fairly well with the black comedy tone. In terms of compact storytelling, Dog Eat Dog most definitely flounders, and all the gore and flashiness struggles to make up for the lack of consistent coherence.
45. Astro Boy
Loosely based on Osamu Tezuka’s manga series of the same name, Astro Boy is a computer-animated superhero film directed by David Bowers. Apart from Cage, the film stars Freddie Highmore, Kristen Bell, Bill Nighy, Matt Lucas, Eugene Levy, Nathan Lane, Samuel L. Jackson, Charlize Theron, and Donald Sutherland. While Astro Boy was a critical and commercial failure, this film is associated with warmth and nostalgia by audiences and features impressive voice work by most of the cast. In this film, Cage voices Dr. Tenma, Toby’s father, Astro’s creator, and the head of the Ministry of Science of Metro City.
44. The Family Man
In what is essentially a Christmas family fantasy comedy, Brett Ratner’s The Family Man stars Nicolas Cage (who’s opening appearance has him belting opera at the top of his lungs), Téa Leoni, Saul Rubinek, Don Cheadle, and Jeremy Piven. The Family Man received mixed reviews, although critics lauded Cage and Leoni’s performances, and deemed that the movie as sentimental, feel-good, and heartfelt. Despite its shortcomings and narrative predictability, The Family Man is the kind of movie to be seen during Christmas, giving into the wellspring of emotions in order to have a generally good time.
43. Prisoners of the Ghostland
Released both in theatres and video-on-demand, Prisoners of the Ghostland is a fairly recent horror western directed by Sion Sono, starring Cage, Sofia Boutella, and Bill Moseley that sees Nic Cage belt the word “testicles” across a post-apocalyptic wasteland. In the completely bonkers film, Nicolas Cage assumes the mantle of a notorious criminal named Hero, who is sent to rescue the governor’s adopted granddaughter, who seems to have disappeared into a mysterious region called Ghostland. The film is a delicious genre-mashup, although fans of Sono will find it markedly different from their landmark work. As routine with Cage, he belts out a frenzied performance that does not feel too over-the-top, for a change, as there seems to be a method to his madness in this particular project.
42. Con Air
Simon West’s action thriller, Con Air, stars John Cusack, John Malkovich, Steve Buscemi, and Ving Rhames apart from Cage. Perhaps one of many “guilty pleasure” Nicolas Cage films, Con Air has evolved into an experience that verges onto the territory that urges audiences to sideline its flaws solely in favor of its entertainment factor. Critics were of the consensus that Con Air did not win any points when it came to credibility, but as it is a film acutely aware of its tone, much praise was granted to its thrilling, over-the-top sequences that boasted of visual excess and playful performances.
41. Guarding Tess
This 1994 comedy-drama starred Shirley MacLaine alongside Cage, and the former was nominated for a Golden Globe in 1995 in the Best Actress category. MacLaine plays a former First Lady, protected by an entourage of Secret Service agents led by an exasperated Doug Chesnic (Cage). While the film was considered derivative of better narratives like In The Line of Fire, they praised the comic tension between the leads, as their performances lend an aura of genuine fun to an otherwise tonally uneven film.
40. Love, Antosha
A documentary about the life and career of actor Anton Yelchin, who struggled with cystic fibrosis since a formative age, Love, Antosha is a love letter to the deceased young actor’s artistic passions. Narrated by Cage, who also goes on to read many of Anton’s writings, the film is a touching portrait of an actor, the result being a genuine, raw homage to an artistic talent whose life was cut short tragically. Love, Antosha is both heartbreaking and heartfelt and is a must-watch for those interested in the bittersweet nuances of Anton’s life when he was alive.
39. City of Angels
This Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan starrer is a loose remake of Wim Wender’s 1987 film, Wings of Desire. City of Angels follows an angel, Seth, (Cage) who falls in love with a mortal woman, wishing to become human in order to be with her. With the guidance of a man who has already made this transition, Seth discovers what it means to be human. Both Cage and Ryan belted incredibly engaging and grounded performances in the film, which was praised for its profound message and romantic lyricism, although also deemed a little too overtly sentimental.
38. The Weather Man
Gore Verbinski’s comedy-drama, The Weather Man, stars Cage as a successful man undergoing a mid-life crisis, with supporting performances from Michael Caine and Hope Davis. The performances in this film are refined, sprinkled with a dry sense of humor and a rumination into the tragic aspects of existence while being an exploration of what it truly means to be happy from within.
37. Racing With The Moon
Starring Nicolas Cage, Sean Penn, and Elizabeth McGovern, Racing With The Moon follows small-town boy Henry Nash, who has been drafted into the U.S. Marine Corps and is about to serve overseas. Being close friends with Nicky, who is also about to be deployed, the two spend their limited time together, embarking upon a journey that is equal parts lovely and bittersweet. Racing With The Moon is a story about love, and the inherent nostalgia entangled within the memories of the places people grow up in.
Director Oliver Stone‘s biographical thriller film, Snowden stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Edward Snowden, CIA subcontractor and whistleblower who leaked highly classified information from the National Security Agency. The film also stars Cage as Hank Forrester, a professor who Snowden confers with. Snowden garnered mixed reviews, but Gordon-Levitt’s performance granted him critical praise, as he manages to keep the narrative thrilling from start to finish.
35. Lord of War
This 2005 crime drama sees Cage play a fictional illegal arms dealer, inspired by the lives of real-life smugglers. Officially endorsed by Amnesty International to highlight the issues in the international arms industry, Lord of War received fairly positive reviews from critics, as it is a skilled examination into the guns trade, despite its disjointed plotline.
34. Vampire’s Kiss
Cage’s method performance in Vampire’s Kiss is perhaps his best demonstration of manic, campy energy, as the film has achieved cult status for its bizarre storyline, chaotic dialogue, and overly hilarious sequences. The film also stars María Conchita Alonso, Jennifer Beals, and Elizabeth Ashley, and tells the story of a mentally ill literary agent (Cage), whose condition turns a turn for the worse when he believes he has been bitten by vampires. While some may deem Vampire’s Kiss to be too high on the list, owing to its sheer incredulity and outrageously comic tint, the film’s status can be justified by the many freakout scenes wherein Cage goes ballistic, and the unforgettable sequence in which he runs through the streets of New York whilst shouting “I’m a vampire! I’m a vampire! I’m a vampire!” with absurd hilarity.
33. The Frozen Ground
Scott Walker’s The Frozen Ground stars Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, Vanessa Hudgens, Katherine LaNasa, Radha Mitchell, and 50 Cent. Based on the crimes of real-life Alaskan serial killer Robert Hansen, the film depicts an Alaskan State Trooper (Cage) seeking to apprehend Hansen by partnering with a young woman who escaped from Hansen’s clutches. While the film received lukewarm responses, critics praised Cage’s film performance and the plot’s taut pacing.
32. Willy’s Wonderland
Cage also served as producer in this 2021 action comedy horror from director Kevin Lewis, which garnered a small cult following due to Cage’s wordless, quietly comedic, and equally frenetic performance and the movie’s resemblance to the Five Nights at Freddy’s franchise. Willy’s Wonderland follows a quiet drifter who is tricked into cleaning up an abandoned family entertainment center haunted by murderous animatronic characters. Cage channels his manic energy yet again into the film’s frenetic action sequences, which adds an interesting tint to this wild slasher offering.
31. The Rock
Michael Bay’s The Rock stars Sean Connery, Ed Harris, William Forsythe, and Michael Biehn alongside Cage. In the film, the Pentagon assigns a team of an FBI chemist and former SAS captain to break into Alcatraz, wherein a rogue group of Marines have held the tourists of the islands hostage. The Rock has a visceral appeal like most Michael Bay films, and received mixed to average reviews by critics for its improbable plotline.
30. Honeymoon in Vegas
A typical romantic comedy film, Honeymoon in Vegas stars Cage as Private Detective Jack Singer, who swears to his mother on her deathbed that he would never marry. However, his girlfriend Betsy (Sarah Jessica Parker) wishes to settle down with him and start a family, to which he seemingly agrees. Honeymoon in Vegas is one of those low-stakes comedies that offer exactly what one expects it to – it is lighthearted, feel-good, genuinely funny, and does not take itself too seriously.
29. World Trade Center
Oliver Stone’s docudrama disaster film, World Trade Center, centers on the harrowing experiences of a group of police officers during the September 11 attacks, in which they find themselves trapped in the rubble. The film stars Nicolas Cage, Maria Bello, Michael Peña, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Stephen Dorff, and Michael Shannon. It received generally positive reviews for its genuine intent and execution, as it emerges as an honest tribute to the many lives lost in the tragedy.
28. Kiss of Death
Kiss of Death boasts of a stellar cast alongside Cage, namely David Caruso, Samuel L. Jackson, Helen Hunt, Ving Rhames, and Stanley Tucci. Loosely based on the 1947 film noir classic, Kiss of Death features one of Cage’s best performances, which has been praised for its unbridled intensity and likable strangeness.
27. It Could Happen To You
A 1994 romantic comedy starring Nicolas Cage and Bridget Fonda, It Could Happen To You is the tale of a New York City police officer who wins the lottery and splits the winnings with a waitress. The film has been generally praised for its premise, with its central message of kindness resonating with audiences on an authentic level.
26. Rumble Fish
Francis Ford Coppola’s 1983 drama, Rumble Fish, is based on the eponymous novel by S.E.Hinton, and primarily stars Matt Dillon and Mickey Rourke, with Cage assuming the supporting character of Smokey. Rumble Fish centers on the relationship between Motorcycle Boy, a revered former gang leader, and his younger brother Rusty, a teenaged hoodlum who aspires to follow his brother’s footsteps. The film has been praised for its avant-garde style, with touches of film-noir, with homages to French New Wave and German Expressionism. Critics praised Coppola‘s movie as an emotionally satisfying cinematic experience.
25. The Croods and Croods: The New Age
The Croods is a media franchise that began with the 2013 film, in which Cage voices Grug Crood, a caveman who is Ugga’s husband, Gran’s son-in-law, and the father of Eep, Thunk, and Sandy. The franchise involves a family of cavepeople, who traverse the prehistoric Pliocene era after encountering Guy while trekking in search of a new home. Although both films, The Croods and The Croods: A New Age did well in the box office, the second film received slightly more favorable reviews than its predecessor.
24. Bringing Out The Dead
Martin Scorsese‘s 1999 psychological drama, Bringing Out The Dead, stars Nicolas Cage alongside Patricia Arquette, John Goodman, Ving Rhames, and Tom Sizemore. In this film, a mentally strained paramedic named Frank (Cage) struggles to maintain his sanity while tending to various critical emergencies, hallucinating about the people whose lives he is unable to save. Scorsese crafts a compelling tale with masterful expertise, touching audiences with gripping emotion and great psychological depth.
Despite being a box office flop, Joe managed to receive critical acclaim due to Cage’s powerful performance and David Gordon Green’s strong directorial comeback. Rich in terms of thematic exploration and atmosphere, Joe is an independent crime drama based on Larry Brown’s eponymous 1991 novel, revolving around a tormented man who hires a teenager while protecting him from his abusive father.
22. Wild At Heart
David Lynch‘s Wild At Heart was poorly received at the time of its release, but over the years, it has undergone intense critical reconsideration, even being ranked in prestigious lists chronicling the greatest films of all time. Apart from Cage starring as the wildly flamboyant and eccentric Sailor Ripley, the film also stars Laura Dern, Diane Ladd, Willem Dafoe, Harry Dean Stanton, and Isabella Rossellini. While both Cage and Dern offer career-defining performances complemented by their naturally free-flowing chemistry, Wild at Heart was deemed uneven in tone, when compared against the rest of Lynch’s brilliant filmography.
21. The Cotton Club
Francis Ford Coppola’s The Cotton Club was a yet-another ambitious project, taking over five years to make, despite which, it was a commercial failure. The story centers on the Cotton Club, a Harlem jazz club in the 1930s, and the film stars Richard Gere, Gregory Hines, Diane Lane, and Lonette McKee. The supporting cast included Bob Hoskins, James Remar, Nicolas Cage, Allen Garfield, Gwen Verdon, and Fred Gwynne. Critics acknowledged the film’s memorable performances and the grandiose scale of its visual and musical design.
Yet another cult hit, Kick-Ass is a black comedy superhero film directed by Matthew Vaughn – and it set off a wave of antiheroic figures who use knockabout humor that is influencing the MCU through Deadpool to this day. Kick-Ass tells the story of an ordinary, dweeby teenager, Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson), who sets out to become a real-life superhero, calling himself “Kick-Ass”. Dave gets caught up in a bigger fight when he meets Big Daddy (Cage), a former cop who, in his quest to bring down the crime boss Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong) and his son Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), has trained his eleven-year-old daughter (Chloë Grace Moretz) to be a ruthless vigilante Hit-Girl. Critics who enjoyed the film praised its humor and the lengths it was willing to go to delight audiences.
19. Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Amy Heckerling’s Fast Times At Ridgemont High also turns out to be Cage’s feature film debut, although his role within the ambit of the film is pretty limited. The film chronicles a school year in the lives of sophomores Stacy Hamilton (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and Mark Ratner (Brian Backer) and their older friends Linda Barrett (Phoebe Cates) and Mike Damone (Robert Romanus), both of whom believe themselves wiser in the ways of romance than their younger counterparts. Penn was praised for his career-defining performance, and the film was lauded for its ability to authentically capture the minute details of teenage life.
18. Valley Girl
Loosely based on William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Valley Girl is a teen romantic comedy by Martha Coolidge, featuring Cage, Deborah Foreman, Michelle Meyrink, Elizabeth Daily, Cameron Dye, and Michael Bowen. The film was generally praised for the engaging performances by its leads, along with a storyline that both celebrated and subverted the concept of blissful superficiality in teen comedies.
Alan Parker’s Birdy is a 1984 drama based on William Wharton’s eponymous novel, focusing on the friendship between two teenage boys, Birdy (Matthew Modine) and Al Columbato (Cage). The story is presented in flashbacks, with a frame narrative depicting their traumatic experiences upon serving in the Vietnam War. Birdy received positive reviews for its interesting and gripping storytelling, along with deft editing which served to make the film a powerful chronicle of postwar trauma. Cage’s performance as Al Columbato also received critical praise.
16. Peggy Sue Got Married
Peggy Sue Got Married is a 1986 fantasy comedy-drama by Francis Ford Coppola, starring Kathleen Turner as the titular Peggy on the verge of a divorce, who finds herself transported back to the days of her senior year in high school in 1960. In this film, Cage stars as Charlie “Crazy Charlie” Bodell, who used to be Peggy’s high school sweetheart and separated from her after repeated instances of infidelity. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards for Turner’s performance and was well-received in general, although some critics were not a fan of Cage’s icky rendition of Charlie, which in their view, marred the film to an extent.
15. Mom and Dad
Brian Taylor’s comedy-horror stars Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair, while chronicling the tale of a teenage girl and her younger brother, who are forced to survive a wild 24 hours during which a mass hysteria of unknown origin causes all parents to turn violently on their own kids. Mom and Dad is a pretty under-the-radar experience, as it is one of those films that truly complements Cage’s over-the-top performances, which works well in this case. The dark comedy aspect of the film is also executed with deft wit and effectiveness, making it a thrilling, enjoyable watch, especially for many Cage fans.
14. Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, Werner Herzog’s 2009 crime drama, stars Nicolas Cage alongside Eva Mendes, Tom Bower, Jennifer Coolidge, Alvin ‘Xzibit’ Joiner, Val Kilmer, and Brad Dourif. The film loosely resembles Abel Ferrara’s Bad Lieutenant, although Herzog has denied any claims of the project being a sequel or a remake, explaining that it solely shares a central theme. The film received positive reviews for its fearless direction and an unhinged Cage, a combination that takes a delightful turn as the movie progresses. Critics also praised Cage for the way in which he chose to tackle the titular role, dubbing the performance as undoubtedly “hypnotic“.
13. Teen Titans Go! To The Movies
Based on the television series, Teen Titans Go!, this animated superhero musical comedy takes place in Jump City, where The Teen Titans arrive to stop Balloon Man. When he fails to recognize them, the Teen Titans jump into a rap song to introduce themselves and become distracted, forcing the Justice League — Superman (Cage), Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman — to intervene and defeat him. Teen Titans Go! attained a rating of 91% on Rotten Tomatoes, praised for its array of colorful characters and charming, endearing adventure infused with wacky humor.
12. Color Out Of Space
Richard Stanley’s Color Out of Space is supposed to be the first film in a trilogy of H.P. Lovecraft’s adaptations, which hopefully will be continued with an adaptation of “The Dunwich Horror.” The film stars Cage, Joely Richardson, Elliot Knight, Madeleine Arthur, Q’orianka Kilcher, and Tommy Chong, and follows Nathan Gardner (Cage) and his family, whose lives take a turn for the worse after a mysterious meteorite crashes on their backyard, unleashing a mutant extraterrestrial organism that emits an indescribable, pinkish-purple hue. Color Out of Space is a wonderful mix of B-movie pulp and genuinely jarring Lovecraftian horror, with Cage belting out a memorable performance that tiptoes the line between sanity and full-blown madness.
11. Matchstick Men
Ridley Scott’s Matchstick Men is based on Eric Garcia’s 2002 novel of the same name, starring Nicolas Cage, Sam Rockwell, and Alison Lohman. The film attained unanimous critical praise due to the breezy nature of the plot unravel, along with the strong performances belted out by the principal cast. Matchstick Men follows Roy (Cage), a con man who is about to work on a huge job with his partner Frank, but his life takes an unexpected turn when his estranged daughter Angela tells him to mend his ways. Narratively interesting, with a sensitive balance between humor and emotional satisfaction, Matchstick Men is easily one of the better movies that play greatly to Cage’s acting strengths, as his performance was particularly noted as impressive by audiences and critics alike.
10. Leaving Las Legas
Mike Figgis’ Leaving Las Vegas is semi-autobiographical in nature, based on the eponymous novel by John O’ Brien. Cage plays suicidal alcoholic Ben Sanderson, who leaves Los Angeles after being fired and losing his family, moving to Las Vegas to indulge in willful self-destruction. It is important to note that Cage received the Golden Globe for Best Actor for this film, a testimony to his ability to bring genuine groundedness to a tragic character when he wishes to. Critics describe Cage’s performance as authentically humane, as he portrays Ben without pretense or exaggeration, plunging into the darkest depths of destruction.
Both a commercial and critical success, Director John Woo‘s Face/Off stars Nicolas Cage and John Travolta in the respective roles of terrorist Castor Troy and FBI agent Sean Archer. In an attempt to thwart a ticking time bomb planted by Troy, Archer assumes Troy’s identity by literally wearing the latter’s face, which lands him in a boatload of trouble after the nefarious Troy assumes Sean’s face and impersonates him, living his life. Filled with exciting, climactic action sequences and great performances by both actors, Face/Off is a memorable experience, owing to its stylized visuals and the dual roles that both actors are able to bring to life due to the nature of the plot.
8. Raising Arizona
Directed by Joel Coen, Raising Arizona is a 1987 crime comedy following Cage as H.I. McDunnough, an ex-convict, and Edwina (Holly Hunter), a former police officer, with Trey Wilson, William Forsythe, John Goodman, and Frances McDormand as the supporting cast. While the reviews of the film were initially mixed, it underwent evaluation over the years, emerging as an exuberantly original film, armed with its own brand of charm, infused with screwball comedy. While most of the performances can be deemed as over-the-top, they seem carefully modulated in a way that works in favor of the film, infusing it with a quirkiness many can get behind.
Moonstruck is a 1987 romantic comedy-drama directed and co-produced by Norman Jewison, starring singer and actress Cher, Nicolas Cage, Danny Aiello, Olympia Dukakis, and Vincent Gardenia. The film follows Loretta Castorini, a widowed Italian-American woman who falls in love with her fiancé’s estranged, hot-tempered younger brother. The film received six nominations at the 60th Academy Awards and is considered a hilarious romantic comedy with commendable performances from Cage and Cher. Moonstruck manages to thrill audiences with its wit, humor, and the bittersweet yearning embedded within the ambit of romantic experiences, granting it a fantastical quality of its own.
Directed by Spike Jonze and written by Charlie Kaufman, Adaptation stars Cage as Kaufman and his fictional twin brother Donald, with Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper, Cara Seymour, Brian Cox, Tilda Swinton, Ron Livingston, and Maggie Gyllenhaal in supporting roles. Adaptation was praised for both Cage performances, its originality, its direction, its humor, and Charlie Kaufman’s screenplay, as well as stunning turns from Cooper, and Streep, receiving Oscars, Golden Globes, and BAFTA awards. Adaptation has been praised for its multilayered storytelling and thought-provoking moments, while its screenwriting was specifically lauded for its depth and inventiveness.
5. Red Rock West
An arthouse wonder, John Dahl’s neo-noir thriller, Red Rock West, stars Cage, Lara Flynn Boyle, J. T. Walsh, and Dennis Hopper. The premise of the film follows Michael Williams (Cage), who is promised a job in Wyoming, which ultimately fails to materialize, but he is mistaken by Wayne (Walsh) to be the hitman he hired to kill his unfaithful wife, Suzanne (Boyle). Red Rock West is considered an underrated gem in Cage’s filmography, and the film is thoroughly enjoyable, well-acted, and executed smartly in the vein of a compelling thriller. A delightful genre-mash, the film has been well-received by audiences and critics alike.
4. Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse features the Marvel character, Miles Morales (Shameik Moore). Directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman, the film stars the voices of Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry, Lily Tomlin, Luna Lauren Velez, John Mulaney, Kimiko Glenn, Nicolas Cage, and Liev Schreiber. Set in a shared multiverse called the “Spider-Verse”, the film’s story follows Miles as he becomes the new Spider-Man and joins other Spider-People from various parallel universes to save New York City from the Kingpin. The film is equal parts hilarious and heartrending, matched with striking animation and a lovely adventure with plenty of superhero action, adding layered interpretations to the iconic character of Spiderman.
Panos Cosmatos’ psychedelic horror film, Mandy, stars Cage as Red and Andrea Riseborough as the titular Mandy, with Linus Roache, Ned Dennehy, Olwen Fouéré, Richard Brake, and Bill Duke in supporting roles. A beautiful and terrifying revenge drama, Mandy is a visual spectacle, mashing stunning animation with frenetic action sequences, interspersed with a dose of vibrant surrealism steeped in meaning. Cage embodies the character of Red with blazing glory, perfectly stepping into the shoes of a man wronged after his partner is burnt alive by a cult, who embarks on a path of gore, madness, and revenge until each and every one of them is dead. Mandy has been praised by critics for its distinct 80s visuals and palettes, along with Cage’s electrifying performance that is both steeped in pathos and unhinged cosmic darkness.
Michael Sarnoski’s directorial debut, Pig, stars Nicolas Cage as a truffle forager whose beloved truffle finding pig is stolen. As bizarre as this premise sounds, the film is an emotional rollercoaster about the true meaning of loss, which never feels pretentious or bloated due to the amazing performances belted by the cast, which includes Alex Wolff, and Adam Arkin. Apart from praising Sarnoski’s directorial chops and the beautiful execution of layered themes, critics deemed Cage’s performance as evocative, raw, and extremely effective. While there are no plot twists in the traditional sense, Pig remains a beautiful, unpredictable ride into the caverns of a soul, who is rendered rather broken by love that is lost, culminating in an electrifying odyssey imbued with meaning.
1. The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent
Nicolas Cage plays Nicolas Cage in The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent, a bizarre, self-aware comedy-thriller that also brings Pedro Pascal and Tiffany Hadish into his orbit. Cage has become accustomed to outlandish cinematic trust falls, and this had every opportunity to land flat on its self-involved face. Yet, the film that emerges from the rubble is a multi-layered, exciting, uproariously funny, and weirdly affecting film that handles screeching tonal U-turns as if they’re par for the course. Not since Charlie Kaufman‘s Being John Malkovich has an actor fed so freely on his legacy to tell a story, write a love/hate letter to their industry, and explore what it means to be a cult icon. There might be greater artistic or technical achievements on this list, but none elicit a beaming, ear-to-ear grin like Unbearable Weight. A movie like this needs to be built around a killer performance, and while Cage provides acting chops that justify the movie’s existence, Pascal more than meets him in the middle and on occasion risks stealing the movie from him, especially during a scene that can only be described as Fear And Loathing In Leaving Las Vegas. Unbearable Weight is the best Nic Cage movie and the best “Nic Cage” movie, giving audiences every shade of Cage and then asking them to deconstruct, laugh at, and understand him. This is a near-unrepeatable cinematic experiment and a thundering success.
Now Cage Has Played Cage, Is His Cult Status Over?
Nicolas Cage’s performance in The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent is a dialogue with his legion of adoring fans, laced with just enough irony to buy into his cult of personality without dismissing his own talents or reducing himself to self-parody. Cult figures like Cage, The Room’s Tommy Wiseau, and King of Kong‘s Billy Mitchell exist on a sliding scale of popularity and self-awareness. Not enough self-awareness and they run the risk of getting trampled by their ironic acclaim. Too much, and the cult figure can wind up deliberately self-memeing themselves into ignominy, like Tommy Wiseau. Despite some stinkers, Cage’s appeal rests on the shoulders of his genuine talent, energy, range, and eccentricity, as well as the sly and masterful handling of his fanbase over the ages. Given that the top 3 movies on this list are from recent years, and that his sensibility for picking high-concept, genuinely unique projects hasn’t waned an inch since Wild At Heart, Unbearable Weight is going to consolidate why Nicolas Cage fans love Cage – it’s a heartfelt nod that he loves them, too (but he loves his family more).
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