Apologies, but if you’ve come for a list of uncontroversially “good” movies, you’ve strayed down a dangerous path and should turn back now, while you still can. We’ve crossed the event horizon and entered a place where terms like “good” or “bad” or “movies” have no meaning, a place where only one actor resides: the inimitable Nicolas Cage. There’s nothing and no one like Cage; he’s an unexplainable force, a chaos agent, a mad genius with no regard for an audience’s idea of normal. As already proven by Community, trying to put Cage’s abilities as an actor into simple terms is a foolhardy exercise, like trying to measure the weight of a smoke ring. Instead, we crunched the numbers, compiled the data, and watched Ghost Rider like 16 times to create an official Cage Scale™, which measures five crucial components of a classic Nicolas Cage performance.
Is it a “bad” film elevated to endlessly watchable through the sheer force of whatever the hell Nicolas Cage doing?
- Is Nicolas Cage making performance choices that no other actor, living or dead, would have ever made, whether they work or not?
- Is Nicolas Cage wearing a wig of some sort, and/or a facial hair prosthetic?
- Is Nicolas Cage committing 10,000% to an accent that he has mastered by about 30%?
- Are the actors around Nicolas Cage even close to being on the same wavelength?
Using this highly scientific and completely foolproof process, we whittled a list down to 13 essential Nicolas Cage films, which is harder than it sounds. There are some instances in which Nicolas Cage is putting in top-tier freakouts but the overall movie still manages to be boring, like Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. There are movies where Nicolas Cage is kind’ve doing a weird thing, but it’s not really the “focal point”, per se, of the piece, like Moonstruck or the infamously Kathleen Turner-enraging Peggy Sue Got Married. There are also the National Treasure movies, which are flawless works of popcorn fun but Nicolas Cage is playing it pretty straight the entire time.
So maybe these aren’t the “best” Nicolas Cage movies. But they are the most Nicolas Cage movies, for better, worse, or whatever.