24 Most Iconic Nicolas Cage Movies, Ranked

Stella McDaniel

It’s the perfect time to celebrate Nicolas Cage’s most bold and bizarre film roles ever.

Finally, Nicolas Cage has returned to Hollywood in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, a love letter to all things Nicolas Cage.


Lionsgate

With excitement for this meta-comedy (and Cage’s big-screen comeback) ramping up by the day, I’ve decided to rank his most unforgettable and iconic performances throughout his impressive, decades-spanning career.

24.

Drive Angry


Summit Entertainment / Courtesy Everett Collection

Drive Angry may not be the most popular film in Nicolas Cage’s filmography, but the film’s loyal cult audience and over-the-top action have helped establish Drive Angry as an essential showcase for Cage’s weirder sensibilities.

23.

Adaptation


Columbia / Courtesy Everett Collection

Cage wowed audiences and critics alike with his Oscar-nominated turn as Charlie Kaufman (and his fictitious brother, Donald) in Spike Jonze’s lauded meta-comedy.

22.

Knowing


Summit Entertainment / Courtesy Everett Collection

Cage proved himself to once again be box office gold with this fan-favorite disaster thriller from The Crow director Alex Proyas.

21.

Pig


Neon / Courtesy Everett Collection

The most recent film on this list, Nicolas Cage brought his A-game to this heartbreaking mystery-drama that set Film Twitter ablaze last fall.

20.

Kick-Ass


Marv Films / Collection Christophel / Alamy

Nicolas Cage channeled Adam West for his depiction of noble ex-cop-turned-vigilante Big Daddy, the moral compass of Matthew Vaughn’s chaotic and vulgar adaptation of Mark Millar’s Kick-Ass.

19.

Vampire’s Kiss


Magellan Pictures / Hemdale / Collection Christophel / Alamy

Arguably the most memed film in Nicolas Cage’s respective oeuvre, Vampire’s Kiss offers the performer at his absolute most unhinged, elevating the dark comedy tenfold while cementing just how far he would go for a part… And by that, I definitely mean eating a cockroach on camera.

18.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse


Sony Pictures Animation / Columbia Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

Nicolas Cage feels like the perfect fit for Spider-Man Noir in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, brilliantly utilizing vocal cues and subversively matter-of-fact line deliveries to best evoke the classic noir voiceovers of yesteryear.

17.

The Croods


Dreamworks Animation / Photo 12 / Alamy

On the opposite side of Cage’s vocal performance spectrum, the actor brings a great deal of empathy, confidence, and unbridled enthusiasm to the patriarch of this prehistoric family.

16.

Bringing Out the Dead


Paramount Pictures/ Courtesy Everett Collection

Cage turns in one of his most compelling and meditative performances in Martin Scorsese’s surreal and hypnotic cult classic about a depressed paramedic who searches for hope and love while dealing with death, drugs, and hallucinations throughout his sleepless city nights.

15.

Gone in 60 Seconds


Buena Vista Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

Cage shines throughout an impressive supporting cast that includes Angelina Jolie, Giovanni Ribisi, Robert Duvall and Delroy Lindo in this surprisingly stylish action thriller.

14.

Valley Girl


Atlantic Releasing / Courtesy Everett Collection

In a star-making performance, a young Nicolas Cage steals every scene with his natural charisma and inherently rebellious attitude throughout Valley Girl.

13.

Wild at Heart


Samuel Goldwyn / Courtesy Everett Collection

Nicolas Cage was the perfect Sailor Ripley for David Lynch’s dark yet fantastic love story, whether it be through exuding raw sex appeal, singing Elvis at a metal concert or embracing the literal manifestation of inner turmoil with violent vulnerability.

12.

Peggy Sue Got Married


Tristar Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

In one of his more divisive performances, Nicolas Cage delivered a kitschy, over-the-top performance ripped out of the pages of an Archie comic for his role in this beloved comedy from his uncle Francis Ford Coppola.

11.

The Wicker Man


Warner Brothers / Courtesy Everett Collection

The Wicker Man might very well live on as one of Cage’s biggest professional missteps, but there’s no denying that this ridiculous, oft-parodied performance from Cage has cemented the film’s high placement in the Bad Movie Hall of Fame.

10.

The Rock


Buena Vista Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

Offering a more subtle performance as compared to his more colorful and quippy co-star Sean Connery, Cage becomes the surprising face of hope and humanity in this action-packed thriller.

9.

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans


First Look Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

Following in the shoes of Harvey Keitel’s unhinged performance in the original Bad Lieutenant, Nicolas Cage has never been more depraved or despicable as he is playing a manic corrupt cop whose personal troubles complicate his even messier professional obligations in New Orleans.

8.

Ghost Rider


Columbia Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

Nicolas Cage headlined his first superhero flick in Sony’s inaugural Ghost Rider film, in which his brooding, quiet performance as Johnny Blaze wonderfully juxtaposed his louder and more berserk transformation into the titular antihero.

7.

Moonstruck


MGM / Courtesy Everett Collection

As the temperamental and eccentric Ronny Cammareri in this all-time-great romantic comedy, Nicolas Cage garnered his first Golden Globe nomination and planted his roots as a dependable and entertaining leading man for mainstream audiences.

6.

Mandy


SpectreVision / Umedia / Legion M / XYZ Films / TCD / Prod.DB / Alamy

Though Cage’s career had taken a hit in credibility following a string of middling direct-to-video genre films, the versatile actor proved that he had much more gas in the tank with his frantic and occasionally heartbreaking performance as a vengeance-seeking lumberjack hunting down the cult and mutant biker gang that ruined his life in Panos Cosmatos’s sci-fi fever dream.

5.

Leaving Las Vegas


United Artists/ Courtesy Everett Collection

Nicolas Cage won his first (and to date, only) Academy Award with his affecting and gripping performance in Leaving Las Vegas as a hopeless alcoholic screenwriter who forms a bond with a sex worker while drinking himself to death in Las Vegas.

4.

National Treasure


Touchstone / Courtesy Everett Collection

Nicolas Cage re-established himself as a compelling movie star to a whole new generation in his big-budget heist thriller National Treasure, launching a franchise as a result and bringing gravitas to an admittedly silly premise.

3.

Con Air


Buena Vista Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

Nicolas Cage may have donned a hilariously unbelievable Southern accent in Con Air, but to his credit, he effortlessly sells his selflessness and heroics of the wrongfully convicted Cameron Poe throughout an otherwise bombastic and explosive action epic.

2.

Raising Arizona


20th Century Fox Film Corp / Courtesy Everett Collection

While many roles will be tied to Cage as a result of his wild performances, there’s no doubt that his turn as H.I. “Hi” McDunnough in Raising Arizona may be the best testament to his genuine talents, as his incredible comic timing and his inimitable onscreen charm have never been sharper or better than under the direction of the Coen brothers.

1.

Face/Off


Touchstone Pictures / Ronald Grant Archive / Alamy

Let’s face it: No matter what happens, Nicolas Cage will forever be remembered for his role as Castor Troy in Face/Off. It’s the ultimate “over-the-top” Nicolas Cage performance, one that’s been homaged, celebrated, and idolized for 25 years, featured in a film that should not work but absolutely does thanks to the commitment to chewing scenery from Cage and John Travolta.

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