The 15 Best Nicolas Cage Movies, Ranked

nicolas cage leaving las vegas

The internet says Nicolas Cage has been in roughly 104 movies. His IMDB gives him six credits for 2019 alone. It’s safe to say the man has ascended to the status of living legend – both on and off-screen (apparently he did shrooms with his cat once, which only solidifies his lore).

With a range extending from action to comedy to award-winning drama, Cage is an acting beast and all we can say is let’s Cage Rage! We reduced the epic filmography of Nicolas Cage down to his best movies (plus a bonus!) and ranked them once and for all.

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15. Ghost Rider – 2007

When Ghost Rider was released in 2007, a review for the New York Times wrote, “Is the world ready for a flaming Nicolas Cage?” Our response: we were born ready. We wanted to love the action antihero franchise Ghost Rider but sadly, the movies are lame. We’re adding Ghost Rider to the list of best Nicolas Cage films, however, because his embodiment of the character is forever singed into our brains. Many fans of the comic book were disappointed with the adaptation and everything else is to blame except Nicolas Cage.

14. The Wicker Man – 2006


If that word doesn’t tell you why the 2006 remake of The Wicker Man starring Nicolas Cage is a must-watch film then it means you need to be watching it, no reading this. Get ready for an absolutely ridiculous horror film. We also recommend the original (no Cage, unfortunately, but it’s a classic).

13. Snake Eyes – 1998

Do you live for Nicolas Cage in his pure, high-energy, uncontrollable, babble-shouting glory? Snake Eyes is the perfect film for you. Cage plays the slick and shady detective Rick Santoro, who finds himself in the middle of an assassination plot and is determined to get to the bottom of it. Cage gives an otherwise corny film plenty of tension and an iconoclastic take. Without him, this movie would flounder.

12. Wild at Heart – 1990

Wild at Heart never got as much street cred as David Lynch’s other cult classics like Twin Peaks and Blue Velvet, but come on; it’s Nick Cage in a David Lynch movie! One might argue this role paved the way for our No. 1 pick and the best Cage film of all time (can you guess it yet!). In Wild at Heart, Cage plays Sailor, a guy who gets out of prison after killing a man in self-defense. He reunites with his honey, or should we say ‘peanut,’  then gets into more shit that lands him again in jail – ipso facto, away from his peanut once more. In a similar vein as True Romance and Natural Born Killers. Cage is a perfect actor for Lynch’s nightmarish carnival.

11. Bangkok Dangerous – 2008

Bangkok. Freakin. Dangerous. Imagine John Wick but with Nicolas Cage and he’s in Thailand. That’s the movie — an assassin ‘tinman’ who gains a heart. Unlike other award-winning Nicolas Cage films, this gem earned itself a whopping 8% on Rotten Tomatoes. In other words, it’s a must-watch.

10. Adaptation – 2002

On a more serious note, Nicolas Cage took the role of insecure L.A. screenwriter Charlie Kaufman for the 2002 drama-comedy Adaptation— a movie people either love or hate. A neurotic, uncertain middle-aged man with plenty of quirky ticks? This is Cage’s dojo. It may also help that the film was directed by Spike Jonez (Being John Malkovich, Her, and bizarrely, Jackass: The Movie), and co-starred Meryl Streep. It was nominated for every award under the sun and Cage really does make it impossible to tear your eyes away, despite how awkward and sweaty the character is.

9. The Family Man – 2000

We don’t watch The Family Man to analyze the plot. We watch it for two hours of Nicolas Cage freaking out – time well spent if you ask us. A lot of people don’t know about this movie or dismiss it as being cheesy. Check yourself because we love Nicolas Cage in this family-oriented romantic dramedy. Cheesy and predictable? Ok, maybe. But watching Cage play a high-powered Wall Street broker who magically wakes up an average Joe married to his college sweetheart with a family and minivan is plain ol’ fun. Cage is great at playing a confused, uncomfortable character. We recommend washing down this film with a solid hour of Nicolas Cage Freak Out Montages on YouTube. Mmm, delicious.

8. Face/Off – 1997

If you’re confused watching Face/Off, join the club. Nicolas Cage stars alongside John Travolta in an action-meets-plastic surgery thriller where a terrorist (Travolta) and FBI agent (Cage) have surgery to make each of their faces look like the other’s. That’s the simplest way to put it, but the movie is a knotted plot that, quite strangely, is captivating and has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 92%. Face/Off has also given us some of the greatest Cage Rage faces of all time. Google it, you won’t be sorry.

7. National Treasure – 2004

It’s hard to say it better than this reviewer who watched National Treasure six months ago: “This is the best movie of all time … God couldn’t even top this masterpiece, the perfect blend of action and adventure. Nicolas Cage truly adds the factor that no other actor could to carry this movie from good to instant classic … this movie that has been blessed to us from the heavens.” We agree. Cage plays historian and Indiana Jones-type treasure hunter, Ben Gates, as he protects priceless historic artifacts from being stolen, and his talent makes the series distinct from any other treasure-hunting franchise. With this Disney blockbuster, Cage checked off the last box of movie stardom.

6. Raising Arizona – 1987

Oh, you want to talk range? Nicolas Cage may be known for his action prowess but the dude competes with comedy greats, as is evident in the 80s screwball classic Raising Arizona. An early film directed by the Cohen Brothers (famous for The Big Lebowski, Fargo, No Country for Old Men, and O Brother Where Art Thou), Raising Arizona is about an ex-con and ex-cop who kidnap a baby so they can raise it as their own. The movie became a cult classic thanks to knockout performances and chemistry between Cage and Holly Hunter, the hilarious script, Cage’s spikey hair, and most of all the message at its heart. The film is almost as weird as Cage himself, which makes for a damn good time.

5. Leaving Las Vegas – 1995

Without a doubt the most intense role Nicolas Cage has played, Leaving Las Vegas is a gut-wrenching film about addiction, humanity, and love. The plot: Ben Sanderson (Cage) is a Hollywood screenwriter who loses everything and moves to Las Vegas to drink himself to death. I was told by a number of people to buckle TF up before watching this movie and it’s no joke. Despite being deeply dark, Leaving Las Vegas is essential to watch since it sealed the recognition of Nicolas Cage as a real actor, proving he could let go of the playful neuroticism of former roles and perform the hell out of a serious character with serious issues. What’s even cooler, the 1995 movie was a low-budget book adaptation that turned Cage into an Oscar-winning actor with real street cred.

4. The Rock – 1996

Nicolas Cage takes the spotlight even amidst co-stars Sean Connery and Ed Harris in the action-adventure thriller The Rock. Cage leads the story as Stanley Goodspeed (what a Cage name), an FBI biochemist who must help disarm stolen warheads. To do so, he must sneak onto Alcatraz Island, which has been taken hostage by Ed Harris. In a word: it’s cool. A superb action movie that is entertaining as heck. No offense Connery and Harris, but Cage CARRIES YOU.

3. Moonstruck – 1987

A young 23-year-old Nicolas Cage became an overnight heartthrob after playing the love interest in Cher’s 1987 romantic comedy Moonstruck. Anyone who doesn’t fall in love with Cage after watching him as the brooding, working-class, wife-beater-shirt-wearing Ronny can GTFO right now. His dopey smile and intense energy are hypnotic, giving us a classic Cage role replicated in other classics like Raising Arizona — released earlier the same year. Formerly seen as a Brat Pack bad boy thanks to roles in Rumble Fish and Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Moonstruck made Cage into a sex symbol. So yeah, it’s sort of important.

2. Gone in 60 Seconds – 2000

Nicolas Cage + gorgeous cars = a car movie we’ll watch until the end of time. Cage kills it as retired car thief Randall “Memphis” Raines, who must take on a massive car heist within days to save his little brother from being killed by a crime lord. It’s one of those – ‘get the gang back together’ action comedies that checks all the boxes for a perfect Cage film. There are funny one-liners, moody monologues, and at least one ranting freak-out (a must for any Cage classic). Cage is the epitome of cool and the script allows him to deliver 95% of his lines in a deep-whisper. Gone in 60 Seconds captures Cage’s prime – he would continue on as an action star but, in most cases, the films don’t match his magic.

1. Con Air – 1997

Put … the bunny … back … in the box. A flowing hair and chiseled Nicolas Cage stars in the 1997 action thriller Con Air playing the role of Cameron Poe, a former Army Ranger released from prison on parole who can reunite with his wife and daughter. To get to them, he must hitch a ride on a plane filled with supermax prisoners who plan a coup against the guards and attempt to escape to Mexico. Cage is joined by a stellar cast that includes John Malkovich, Dave Chappelle, and Steve Buscemi, who only elevate Cage’s performance without overshadowing. Both the film and our beloved Nickie are ridiculous but the performance is unforgettable— a classic ‘popcorn’ action movie that catches Nicolas Cage in the perfect balance of badass and hero.

*Bonus Round: Fast Times at Ridgemont High

Nicolas Cage snuck his way into the classic 80s teen comedy Fast Times at Ridgemont High, lying to casting agents by saying he was 18 years old instead of 17. Get up for popcorn and you might miss Cage; an unnamed friend of Brad’s who works at the burger joint. This was Nic’s first big-screen performance and the reason he changed his name from Nicolas Coppola to Nicolas Cage. He got a lot of crap for being the nephew of acclaimed director Francis Ford Coppola.

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