He's played everything from car thieves and treasure hunters to Spider-Man, Nicolas Cage has truly become one of Hollywood's biggest wild cards. For all his eccentricities, one thing is for sure: He always gives 100% in all his performances. His filmography is large and the movies he's in are not always great but you can't doubt Cage's passion for his work. As we approach the release of his latest movie, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, you'll definitely watch to check out some of his greatest hits. Here are the 21 best Nicolas Cage movies of all time.
A Guide To The 21 Best Nicolas Cage Movies of All Time
1. Raising Arizona
The legend of Nicolas Cage was truly born with Raising Arizona. Written and directed by the legendary Coen Brothers, Cage and Holly Hunter play a childless couple, who in their desperate quest to have a child, kidnap the kid of a wealthy family. As with practically any Coen Brothers' movie, chaos and hilarity ensue leading to Cage's career truly taking off.
2. Leaving Las Vegas
The film that got Cage his Oscar, Leaving Las Vegas follows his character Ben Sanderson, an alcoholic screenwriter who decides to move to Las Vegas after losing his job. When he gets to Vegas, he falls in love with a prostitute named Sera, played by Elisabeth Shue. While it can be a tough watch at points, this movie is a must-watch for Cage Shue's performances alone.
Another classic Cage performance. In Adaptation, he plays twin brothers Charlie and Donald Kaufman. The film, written by the actual Charlie Kaufman, follows his attempt to break through his writer's block that is slowly driving him insane.
The movie saw Cage get nominated for an Academy Award as well but he, unfortunately, lost this time around.
Nicolas Cage and Cher in a movie together is a recipe for success, and that is proven with Moonstruck. In this 1987 film, Cher's character Loretta falls in love with her fiance's brother, played by Cage. The movie was a massive success and went on to win three Academy Awards.
One of Cage's more recent movies, Pig was a film that caught many by surprise. On the surface it has a sort of bizarre concept, man loses a pet pig and embarks on a quest to find it. It really is a story of how to process grief and the struggle to find yourself after losing someone you love.
Cage's performance was one of the best of his career, he portrayed a man in anguish, who didn't know what to do when the one thing he still loved was gone.
6. Bringing Out the Dead
Directed by Martin Scorses, Bringing Out the Dead sees Cage play a depressed paramedic who begins to hallucinate the ghosts of people who he failed to save.
It's another fantastic Cage performance and Scorsese really knows how to get the best out of him which helps take this movie to the next level.
In Mandy, Cage portrays a man named Red who is out for revenge following the murder of his one true love, Mandy. It is a bloody spectacle that starts hot and doesn't let up as Cage fully embraces his inner psychopath as he carves a swath through all those that have wronged him.
8. Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans
While it shares its name with the Harvey Keitel classic, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans follows a different corrupt cop named Terence McDonagh (Cage) who, following Hurricane Katrina, becomes addicted to painkillers and other drugs.
As he attempts to solve a murder case, McDonagh's life spirals downward but despite his corruption, he maintains that he can still do his job.
9. Lord of War
Lord of War follows Yuri Orlov (Cage,) an illegal arms dealer who attempts to navigate the world of gun-running with an FBI agent (Ethan Hawke) hot on his heels. It's a story of how far one will go to earn money even if it means contributing to the destruction and death of innocents and fueling the engine of war.
10. Matchstick Men
Just one of many great films in Ridley Scott's filmography, Matchstick Men stars Cage and Sam Rockwell as a pair of con artists, with Cage's character also suffering from Tourette's syndrome and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Cage has begun seeing a psychiatrist and is attempting to connect with the daughter he never knew he had, and his life begins to change in unexpected ways.
11. National Treasure
"I'm gonna steal the Declaration of Independence."
More than anything, National Treasure is just a damn fun movie. Is it sort of an Indiana Jones rip-off? Sure, but that doesn't make this film any less of a great time.
Cage plays Benjamin Gates, a historian and treasure hunter who has dedicated his life to discovering the lost Templar treasure. It's a race against time as he tries to outwit his former partner who wants the treasure for himself.
12. National Treasure: Book of Secrets
The not quite as good sequel to National Treasure, Book of Secrets sees Ben Gates attempting to unravel a conspiracy surrounding the Lincoln assassination and how his ancestor may have been involved. His attempt to clear his family name takes him to Europe and beyond and Ed Harris plays a great foil to Cage's Gates.
It's not on the level of the first movie but Book of Secrets is absolutely worth a watch if you're in the action-adventure mood.
13. Con Air
The '90s were a hell of a decade for action movies, with Con Air certainly being on the Mount Rushmore of those films.
Army Ranger Cameron Poe (Cage) is on his way home after spending many years in prison. Just when he thinks he is home free, the airplane taking him home is hijacked by Cyrus the Virus (John Malkovich) and his gang of crooks.
The movie also features John Cusack, Steve Buscemi, and Ving Rhames in supporting roles and is an action film classic.
14. The Rock
If you ask me, The Rock is the GOAT Nicolas Cage action movie. It's got everything: Villains taking over an island fortress demanding money, Michael Bay action sequences, Sean Connery as the grizzled badass, I mean what could be better?
Cage plays FBI agent Stanley Goodspeed, a chemical weapons specialist, who finds himself a part of the team that is attempting to stop a rogue army General from launching rockets full of deadly nerve gas into San Francisco. Goodspeed works with Navy SEALs and the only prisoner to ever escape Alcatraz, John Mason (Connery), to stop the General.
Another action classic with possibly the most ridiculous premise of all time, Face/Off stars John Travolta and Cage as FBI Agent Sean Archer and homicidal villain Castor Troy, respectively. Archer is attempting to hunt down Troy after he killed Archer's son, and after learning that Troy has planted a bomb somewhere in Los Angeles, he is forced to go to extreme measures to stop him.
What do I mean by that? Well, as any good crime-stopper does, he undergoes an experimental face transplant to literally become Castor Troy. Upon discovering this, Troy undergoes the same procedure and becomes Archer.
Naturally, the chaos and action that ensues is something that needs to be seen to be believed.
16. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Cage might not be the star of the show in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse but he comes close to stealing it. In this animated superhero adventure, he plays Spider-Man Noir, a black and white version of Peter Parker that fights crime in 1930s New. York.
His hobbies include: Drinking egg creams and fighting Nazis, both admirable goals if you ask us. He helps Miles Morales and alternate versions of Peter Parker as well as Gwen Stacy stop the Kingpin from opening an interdimensional portal that could potentially destroy the multiverse.
17. Gone in Sixty Seconds
What would you do if a villainous gangster kidnapped your brother and is forcing you to work for him? Steal 50 cars in a single night, naturally.
Nicolas Cage plays Randall "Memphis" Raines, a reformed car thief who enlists a crew of his old associates to help him accomplish this task in order to save his brother. A hokey, action heist film that is guaranteed to entertain, Gone In Sixty Seconds is a Cage movie you're going to want to watch.
A delightful and bloody play on the superhero genre, Cage plays Damon Macready aka Big Daddy, a formerly honest cop who became fed up with inaction in the police department after he was framed by the mob.
He teams up with fledgling superhero Kick-Ass (Aaron Johnson) and his daughter Hit-Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) to take on the mafia in New York City.
A movie that unfortunately flew under the radar considering the brilliance of Cage's performance as well as its story, Joe follows an ex-convict who regretfully takes up the mantle of a mentor to a young man trying to get away from his alcoholic father.
20. It Could Happen to You
If you're in the mood for a good romantic comedy, look no further than It Could Happen to You. Based on a true story, Cage plays NYPD office Charlie, who makes a deal with a diner waitress named Yvonne (Bridget Fonda) to split the money with her if he wins the lottery. Well, you guessed it, he wins the four million-dollar prize and follows through on that promise, which doesn't exactly thrill Charlie's wife Muriel (Rosie Perez.)
As the film progresses and Charlie and Yvonne fall in love, they become minor celebrities after their story is made public. The movie is incredibly charming and is guaranteed to have you feeling all warm and fuzzy by the end.
21. The Family Man
If you got a chance to see what your life would have been like if you did things differently, would you take it?
In The Family Man, Cage plays a high-powered Wall Street executive who forfeited a chance at having a family in order to advance his career. After a run-in with an angel (Don Cheadle,) he's transported to an alternate reality where he traded in that job for a house in the suburbs and a family of four.
We can't go back and change things but a glimpse into a different life certainly can provide some well-needed perspective. The Family Man is another romantic comedy-drama that is inherently rewatchable and one you'll love.