Nicolas Cage's 50 Best Movies, Ranked By Greatness

Nicolas Cage's 50 Best Movies, Ranked By Greatness

Nicolas Cage — the world's most intriguing self-proclaimed method actor — turns 50 years old today.

In his 50 years of life, Nicolas Coppola Cage has amassed a mind-boggling portfolio of work. He is a man that has won both an Oscar and been nominated for multiple Razzies, forever forcing people (and Abed) to debate whether or not he is a good actor. As Ethan Hawke once said, "If I could erase his bottom half bad movies, and only keep his top half movies, he would blow everyone else out of the water."

Without further ado, here is the definitive ranking of Nicolas Cage's movies, from worst to best.

1. 'Season of the Witch'

To be frank, there isn't much to say about this film that hasn't already been said. Season of the Witch — which has neither witches nor a season for them — had the misfortune of being both entirely forgettable and completely confusing. Cage stars as Behmen von Bleibruck , but the real break-out star of Season of the Witch is Cage's wig, which appears to be a cross between Sean Bean's hair and a mop.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 10%

2. 'Bangkok Dangerous'

Bangkok Dangerous is noteworthy for two reasons. One: It is the basis of one of the funniest CollegeHumor sketches ever made. Two: Unlike Season of the Witch, it does not promise that a witch will show up, and is, in fact, set in Bangkok. While the 'dangerous' may be disputable, at least Bangkok Dangerous fulfills some of the expectations given by its name.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 9%

3. 'Stolen'

Remember Taken? Director Simon West did, and he cast Nic Cage as a master thief with a "unique set of skills," who has to rescue his kidnapped daughter. The only thing that was truly "Stolen" in this film, was the producers money, as the film only made $300k at the U.S. Box Office despite its $35 million budget.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 16%

4. 'Trespass'

Cage stars opposite Nicole Kidman in this film helmed by beloved Batman and Robin director, Joel Schumacher. Trespass is the spiritual twin of Stolen, in that it is a cheap knock-off of a much better movie — critics have accused Trespass of plagiarizing a Spanish film called Secuestrados. Also like StolenTrespass grossly underperformed at the U.S. Box Office. Out of its $35 million dollar budget, it made $24,094 domestically.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 10%

5. 'Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance'

Cage returns in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance to ask several important questions like "Can I continue to milk a franchise that no one liked in the first place?" and "What would it look like if a demon urinated fire?"

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 17%

6. 'Deadfall'

Not to be confused with the equally disliked 2012 Eric Bana vehicle of the same name. This early 90s thriller marked the true fall of Michael Biehn, and for some reason starred Nic Cage doing his best Tony Clifton impersonation. Nevertheless, this vague quagmire of a film does have a strong cult following. Some have argued that Cage's performance was purposefully over-the-top, but most critics agree that it's legitimately awful.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 0%

7. 'The Wicker Man'

Many regard this infamous re-make of the 1973 Christopher Lee classic as the quintessential terrible Nic Cage film. It marks the true beginning of Cage's financial woes and box office troubles. Following The Wicker Man, Nic Cage has starred in 21 films. Of those 21, six have been labeled as 'Fresh' on Rotten Tomatoes. Regardless, it is still a pretty enjoyable film, featuring the infamous burnt doll scene, Cage dressing up as a bear and punching women, and THE BEES.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 15%

8. 'Zandalee'

This 1991 "erotic thriller" is a film that suffers by promising hot romance and passion, and then starring Judge Reinhold, Steve Buscemi, and Nic Cage. The strangest part of Zandalee was not the casting, however, but rather the film's odd fixation with every romantic character having the most god-awful facial hair that has ever been displayed on film.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 33%

9. 'Sonny'

Cage's directorial debut features James Franco as a male prostitute in New Orleans, who is being pimped out by his mother and loses the love of his life to Harry Dean Stanton. It's exactly as weird and unwatchable as it sounds.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 23%

10. 'Next'

Next is a film about Cris Johnson, a man who can see the future moments before it happens and who spells Chris without an 'h.' The funny thing is, if Cage could actually see into the future he would have realized that starring in his next film, Ghost Rider, would be a terrible decision.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 28%

11. 'Ghost Rider'

No film has ever made people seriously contemplate Cage's sanity as much as Ghost Rider. This may be the most bananas movie ever made. It features some surprisingly terrible acting from Eva Mendes, a demonic and inspired Cage as the Devil's bounty hunter, Peter Fonda as the Devil, and Sam-Freaking-Elliot as the Devil's former bounty hunter. Long story short, Sam Elliot redeems this movie with the very presence of his mustache.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 26%

12. 'Captain Corelli's Mandolin'

At first glance, this sounds like the name of a Wes Anderson short. It's actually a love story between Penelope Cruise and Cage set in WWII. Cruz plays a Grecian woman under occupation, Cage plays an Italian soldier, and director John Madden finally makes Mussolini Fascism sexy.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 29%

13. 'Drive Angry'

Drive Angry stars Cage as a demon, William Fichtner as the Devil, and Amber Heard as Megan Fox in Transformers. What's more surprising than Cage's willingness to be typecast as a guy who plays demons is how committed he is to the mullet/hairpiece look.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 45%

14. 'Amos & Andrew'

Remember how hilarious American race relations are? Exactly. Cage's comedic timing is fantastic... in this comedy about white cops who shoot Samuel L. Jackson for no reason. Amos & Andrew is uncomfortable at its best, and strangely racist at its worst.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 21%

15. 'Seeking Justice'

Cage stars as Will Gerard, an English teacher in New Orleans whose wife (January Jones) is violently raped about five minutes into the movie. The rest of the film consists of a confused Cage trying to chase a shadowy organization of vigilantes inexplicably led by Guy Pearce. Seeking Justice made $400k at the U.S. Box Office. The budget ... $30 million.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 27%

16. '8MM'

Yet another Schumacher-Cage collaboration, 8MM features a heavyweight cast of Cage, Joaquin Phoenix, James Gandolfini, Peter Stormare, and Catherine Keener, in a film about a murder in the world of underground pornography. 8MM was once known as the worst movie to take a date to (that is, until The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was released).

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 23%

17. 'Windtalkers'

Just like the American Gilded Age, we progress into the section of Cage's filmography that is neither good nor bad — just utterly forgettable. Case in point: Windtalkers. It's the one that takes place in WWII that isn't Captain Corelli's Mandolin.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 33%

18. 'Snake Eyes'

Cage stars as a corrupt detective opposite Gary Sinise as a corrupt US Naval Commander. Essentially, everyone's corrupt. Think Broken City.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 40%

19. 'City of Angels'

The angelic Cage meets a surgeon and a Goo Goo Dolls soundtrack. What happens next is unknown, because seriously, when was the last time that anyone watched a Meg Ryan movie?

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 58%

20. 'Guarding Tess'

Shirley MacLaine and Nic Cage star in a buddy cop comedy. Only, instead of being police officers, she's a former First Lady, and he's her Secret Service protection.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 59%

21. 'The Ant Bully'

Animated, inoffensive, questionably entertaining: of all the words to describe The Ant Bully, those are four.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 63%

22. 'National Treasure: Book of Secrets'

Many regard this film as the inferior National Treasure due to its sheer inability to justify its existence. I think that it just doesn't have enough Declaration of Independence in it.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 35%

23. The Sorcerer's Apprentice

Cage hams it up in this light-hearted Disney film as Balthazar the Sorcerer, a devotee of Merlin trying to stop Morgana le Fey. For a kids' movie, it's pretty decent. For anyone else, not so much.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 41%

24. 'World Trade Center'

This movie isn't bad, technically speaking. There's just something about Oliver Stone's depiction of 9/11 that doesn't feel completely right, ethically speaking. But Cage is fantastic in his portrayal of Port Authority Officer John McLoughlin, and dons a respectable mustache to boot.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 68%

25. 'Knowing'

I could just leave an obvious pun here about Cage Knowing that this movie was going to be panned, but ... no, that's exactly what I'm going to do. In all fairness, Knowing made an obscene amount of money, and Roger Ebert liked it. That has to count for something.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 33%

26. 'The Family Man'

Imagine It's a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol being spliced together, and featuring Don Cheadle as both the helpful ghost from George Bailey's world and the 'what-if' ghost that haunted Scrooge. Now imagine that those movies end on a very depressing and dour note. You have just pictured The Family Man.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 53%

27. 'Kiss of Death'

Cage plays the villain alongside David Caruso's breakout role as ex-con Jimmy Kilmartin. However, Kiss of Death's star power comes neither from Caruso or Cage, but rather from the unstoppable duo that is Ving Rhames and Samuel L. Jackson.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 68%

28. 'The Frozen Ground'

Based on the true story of a serial killer living in Alaska, Nic Cage and  John Cusack do their very best to make a lackluster script engrossing.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 58%

29. 'The Weather Man'

The Weather Man deals with feelings of inadequacy and childhood obesity. Also, Michael Caine says the word cameltoe.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 58%

30. 'Gone in 60 Seconds'

Critically panned but immensely entertaining, Gone in 60 Seconds is basically the same thing as any Fast and Furious movie, though Gone in 60 Seconds never pretends to have a plot. Pure, stupid fun.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 25%

31. 'Wild at Heart'

Wild at Heart gets a lot of lee-way because of its place in the David Lynch universe. That being said, its biggest draw is seeing Nic Cage sing an Elvis Presley ballad towards the end of the film, knowing that Cage would later be married to Lisa Marie Presley in what can only be described as "a Kardashian Wedding."

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 65%

32. 'Vampire's Kiss'


Moving out of the Gilded Age of Nic Cage films, we reach the New Deal. These are the films of Nic Cage that everyone knows. Why? Because they are completely insane. Case in point, Vampire's Kiss, which summarizes what it's about in this clip far better than I ever could.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 62%

33. 'National Treasure'

Also known as "A Series of Incredible Coincidences," National Treasure was Cage's first big mainstream film role of the 2000s. As a surprising side note, Sean Bean does not die in this movie.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 45%

34. 'Honeymoon in Vegas'

A film worth seeing, if only for the skydiving Elvis impersonators. Always remember the moral of Honeymoon in Vegas: never get married.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 62%

35. 'Peggy Sue Got Married'

Speaking of marriage, Cage pulls in one of his most comedic roles in Peggy Sue Got Married alongside a then relatively unknown Jim Carrey. It was also the first time that Cage was directed by his uncle, Francis Ford Coppola.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%

36. 'Birdy'

For a movie about a man who believes that he is a bird, Birdy has a surprising amount to say about the mental health status of military veterans, and Cage plays the role straight and with gravitas.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%

37. 'Kick Ass'

I think that the biggest reason that Kick Ass 2 bombed as hard as it did was its lack of Cage. Big Daddy was an awesome character. He was like Batman, but with a whole bunch of "Kick-Ass" guns and mustache extensions.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 77%

38. 'It Could Happen to You'

Cage plays against type in this romantic comedy about a New York City police officer who gives half of his lottery earnings to a struggling waitress.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 71%

39. 'The Rock'

The Rock. If Michael Bay had stopped making movies after The Rock, he would go down as one of the best action directors in history. This movie is fantastic, and the banter between Cage and Sean Connery is what makes The Rock what it is.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 67%

40. 'The Croods'

This film is a lot better than anyone thought it was going to be. Despite the backdrop of Neanderthal life, The Croods tells an effective bildungsroman tale and Cage gives a nuanced voice acting role.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 70%

41. 'Red Rock West'

This little known gem starring Cage and Dennis Hopper is a tale of hit men, mistaken identities, and ill-advised romance. Red Rock West is Cage's art-film legacy.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%

42. 'Bringing Out the Dead'

Martin Scorcese directs Cage in a film written by Paul Schrader. Yes, it's really good.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 71%

43. 'Con Air'

Alright, so the accent that Cage uses to portray Cameron Poe is strange and fleeting. But Con Air is still the epitome of a dumb popcorn movie. Infinitely re-watchable, if only for the "Put the rabbit down!" scene.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 55%

44. 'Leaving Las Vegas'

In the arguments that occur between people who believe that Nic Cage is a great actor and people who are wrong, Leaving Las Vegas is the coup de grâce in every Cage fans arsenal. His depiction of a man drinking himself to death in Vegas won him an Oscar for Best Actor. Best. Actor.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%

45. 'Lord of War'

This is perhaps the most underrated Nic Cage film of all time. He and Jared Leto play Ukranian weapons smugglers whose business becomes larger than life, and Ethan Hawke plays the Interpol agent determined to bring them down. It's smart, funny, and an unexpected treat from the Bangkok Dangerous Cage.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 61%

46. 'Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans'

Directed by Werner Herzog (the real Werner Herzog, not Paul F. Tompkins), Bad Lieutenant re-imagines the 1992 classic with Cage in the role of the corrupt Lieutenant originally played by Harvey Keitel. However, this film is not a re-make of the '92 version, and in fact shares nothing with that film save for its name.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%

47. 'Face/Off'

The action movie of the 1990s. John Woo's classic about John Travolta and Cage switching faces and acting as each other is an amazing film. So amazing that film majors should be forced to study it. .

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%

48. 'Matchstick Men'

Alien director Ridley Scott goes against the grain to direct a film about a con man and his estranged daughter. Nic Cage gives the best depiction of a person suffering from OCD since Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 82%

49. 'Adaptation'

This Spike Jonze-directed, Charlie Kaufman-written film features Cage (playing the roles of both Charlie Kaufman and his brother Donald Kaufman) as a screenwriter trying to adapt a book about flowers into a movie. Adaptation helped Chris Cooper get his Oscar for Best Actor, and both Cage and Meryl Streep were also nominated.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%

50. 'Raising Arizona'

The tops, the best, number one: Raising Arizona. Both the breakout film for Nicolas Cage and the Coen Brothers, Raising Arizona is a subversive comedy about an ex-con named H.I. McDunnough (Cage) and his infertile ex-cop wife Ed (Holly Hunter), who steal a baby from a local millionaire to raise as their own. It contains what is easily the best quote from any movie ever: "Edwina's insides were a rocky place where my seed could find no purchase."

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%


There you have it, the 50 best films of an American film icon. At the rate that he is progressing, if Nicolas Cage lives another 50 years, he may have starred in more movies than any actor not named Danny Trejo.