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10 Best Nic Cage Movies

Updated on October 7, 2014

Is Nic Cage a vampire seen photographed here as a Civil War officer? Probably not, but you have to admit it is a pretty uncanny resemblance. It also might explain why he is so good at portraying badass roles in action thrillers. Because of his focus on action movies, movie fans either love him or hate him. But either way, Cage has become a major box office draw, especially for action thrillers.

Of course, Cage is not just about action movies. In total, Cage has starred in over 60 feature films across a wide range of genres. He won a Best Actor Oscar for his 1995 portrayal of Ben Sanderson in the drama, Leaving Las Vegas. It was a gripping representation of a man on a downward spiral in life as a result of uncontrollable alcoholism. If you have ever witnessed the devastating effects of alcoholism, you will see the authenticity in Cage's portrayal. He has also starred in several romantic films both dramas and comedies such as Moonstruck, City of Angels and Honeymoon in Vegas.

Most recently he has been involved in several live action comic book movies that have done very well as the box office including Kickass and the Ghost Rider series. These are also high speed action thrillers in the fantasy genre.

You might not know that his real name is Nicolas Coppola and that he is the nephew of Francis Ford Coppola. Nic's father, August Coppola, was a literature professor and the brother of Francis. Nic changed his name early in his career in order to make it on his own merits and not riding the coattails of his famous uncle.

This ranking of the top 10 Nicolas Cage movies is based on the rankings of movie bloggers and other fans at Rankography top ten movies.

All rights reserved. Copyright 2012 Rankography

moonstruck nic cage
moonstruck nic cage

10. Moonstruck (1987)

One of Cage's Few Romcoms Won Three Academy Awards

Early in his career and before the action movie thrillers he is known for, Nic Cage actually spent more time doing romantic comedies like Valley Girl and this classic 80s film, Moonstruck. Loretta Castorini (Cher) is a late 30s widow who lost her husband several years ago in a bus accident. She has decided it is time to marry again and when her late husband's best friend, Johnny (Danny Aiello), asks for her hand, she decides to forgo love for the security of a safe and stable choice.

That is until she meets Johnny's estranged younger brother, Ronny (Cage), and all hell breaks loose. They begin a passionate affair that completely confuses the situation and throws the wedding and their family relationships into jeopardy. Back in 1987, Cher was still quite a beautiful seductress and their chemistry is part of what laid the groundwork for Cage's future box office success.

Clearly this cute romantic comedy struck a nerve because grossed over $80 million at the box office which was a sizable number back in 1987. It was nominated for 6 Academy Awards and actually won 3 of those Oscars nominations, including Best Original Screenplay and Best Actress (Cher).

If you liked Moonstruck, you should see Valley Girl

Nicolas cage Lord of War
Nicolas cage Lord of War

9. Lord of War (2005)

Take a Journey Inside the International Arms Dealing Market

In this 2005 film, Cage took on a much more serious role than most of his action films. Lord of War made quite an impression on its opening with its plot that was both believable and topical with events transpiring in the world. Yuri Orlov (Cage) is a Russian immigrant living in New York who becomes one of the biggest arms dealers in the world. While not a biography, Orlov is loosely based on several real Russian arms dealers and many of the stories are partly based on actual events.

This was an interesting balancing act of a role for Cage. While his character's is morally bankrupt, we can still empathize with the character because of his wit and sensibilities. As Orlov's life unfolds through his narrations, it becomes clear that his role in the arms sales is often guided by US interests that deem they cannot appear to be involved in certain world conflicts. We realize that Orlov has become a "necessary evil" and a pawn in the US interests around the World.

This is an excellent film that give us an inside glimpse into the international arms market and the people and operate within it. While disturbing at times and satirical at others, this film is probably Cage's second best acting performance, second only to Leaving Las Vegas.

If you enjoyed Lord of War, then check out Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans

Nicolas cage raising arizona
Nicolas cage raising arizona

8. Raising Arizona (1987)

The First of the Coen Brothers Black Comedies and Maybe the Best

One of the most original black comedies of all times, Raising Arizona is the film that really launched the Coen Brothers on their meteoric rise as film makers. At its heart it is a crime caper comedy, but it is much more than that. It is also a film about growing up and maturity. H.I. (Cage) and Edwina "Ed" (Holly Hunter) are a young newly married couple trying to make it in the world. H.I. is newly reformed after a life of crime and a stay in prison. He is trying to mature into an honest and stable life with Ed.

However, when they are unable to have a "critter", they dream up a scheme to steal one of the quintuplets of a local couple. Of course, their actions have ramifications including unleashing a "rider of the apocalypse". From here the film goes over the top with lots of crazy twists and turns.

What really makes this film shine though is the comedic performances of its stars. Of course, Hunter and Cage are great with their dry, matter of fact observations of life, which are both simple and profound at the same time. But the rest of the cast is quite good too, especially John Goodman and William Forsythe, as a recently escaped convicts that are at times stupidly silly and other times fully evolved modern men.

This is one of my favorite 1980s comedies and a real cult classic among Coen Brothers fans. If you are a Nicolas Cage fan, you have to put Raising Arizona in your queue for viewing.

If you liked Raising Arizona, then you might like The Big Lebowski

city of angels nic cage
city of angels nic cage

7. City of Angels (1998)

The Ultimate Forbidden Love Story

Released in 1998, City of Angels stars Cage and Meg Ryan in a most unusual love affair. The movie is a unique blend of genres including romance, fantasy and drama, as it tells the story of an angel, Seth (Cage), whose mission is to stand by people who are nearing death and eventually guide them into the next life. He encounters Maggie (Ryan), a surgeon, who fervently tries to save a man's life and falls into deep grief when she fails. This encounter leads Seth to pursue Maggie to console her, but through that process he also falls deeply in love. From there this becomes becomes a touching love story, much in the vein of Ghost.

While the movie received mixed reviews from critics, but it performed well at the box office grossing over $100 million worldwide. For me, I thought this was a moving and romantic film that will definitely touch your heart. If you like deeply moving love stories, then City of Angels is a perfect film for you.

If you loved City of Angels, then check out Phenomenon

gone in 60 seconds nic cage
gone in 60 seconds nic cage

6. Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000)

A Nic Cage Action Thriller That Does Not Quite Hit the Mark

Cage stars in this action-thriller film, Gone in Sixty Seconds, with Angelina Jolie, Robert Duvall and Giovanni Ribisi. Memphis Raines (Cage) is a legendary, but retired car thief. Raines gets pulled back into the business to save his younger brother, Kip (Ribisi), when he botches a big job -- to steal 50 cars and get them on a container ship by 8 AM Friday morning. Unfortunately, it is Monday so he only has 4 days left.

Gone in Sixty Seconds is still one of the best known Nic Cage movies given that it grossed over $230 million worldwide. However, many Cage fans left this film disappointed. While it was a star studded cast, but unfortunately the film did not have a script to match. It was a decent movie but certainly not great.

If you like the high speed action of Gone in 60 Seconds, check out The Fast and The Furious

adaptation nicolas cage
adaptation nicolas cage

5. Adaption (2002)

A Crazy and Bizarre Comedy that Will Have you Begging for More

It's not common for Nicolas Cage to star in a comedy-drama film. But in Adaptation, he actually proves himself worthy with an outstanding performance. Adapted from the Susan Orlean book, The Orchid Thief, this movie will play with your mind in much the way any good Charlie Kaufman film will (Being John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind).

This unique film explores the process of writing, Charlie Kaufman (Cage), is struggling to adapt a book, The Orchid Thief, into a screenplay. The book is about an eccentric plant collector, John Laroche (Chris Cooper). All the while, Kaufman's twin brother, Donald (also Cage), is churning out screenplays of his own with ease.

In addition to the aforementioned Cage and Cooper, this movie is packed with acting talent from Meryl Streep to Tilda Swinton and Maggie Gyllenhaal. In addition to the cast and the unique script, the film is a creative and bold departure from the usual Hollywood script. But it is also a film that is touch to explain. When you see it, you will understand why it received such acclaims. It is epic film that is rich with substance and highly entertaining.

If you enjoyed Adaptation, You should also like Being John Malkovich

national treasure nicolas cage
national treasure nicolas cage

4. National Treasure (2004)

An Archeological Quest Through Washington D.C.

National Treasure is a non-stop action thriller that will actually teach you a bit about American history -- and you won't mind doing it. Maybe its just me but I love all the intrigue about the Founding Fathers and the Masons. All the little hidden secrets around Washington are fun ways to keep people interested in history.

It is hard not to like National Treasure, the story of Benjamin Gates' (Nick Cage) quest to continue his father's search for the lost treasure of the Founding Fathers. In so doing, he also hopes to prove his father was not a quake searching for fool's gold. His quest must go through Dr. Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger), an expert in historical documents and in charge of the Declaration of Independence. Gates is convinced there is a clue to the treasure hidden on the back of the Declaration and he must try to charm his way through Dr. Chase to get access.

While the critics may not have liked this film, the public sure did and it grossed nearly $350 million worldwide. If you like Archeological Quest movies like Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Da Vinci Code, then you should definitely put National Treasure on your list. Cage does not play his normal tough guy, emotionless persona in this film. Rather, he is a conflicted scholar that is relentless in his search most times but also in jeopardy of breaking down mentally in others.

If you enjoyed National Treasure, you might also like Sherlock Holmes

Leaving Las Vegas nicolas cage
Leaving Las Vegas nicolas cage

3. Leaving Las Vegas

A Gripping Drama about Alcohol Abuse

I know there are folks out there that are not big Nicolas Cage fans, usually because they think he chooses simple action scripts and does not stretch himself. However, those people clearly have not seen Leaving Las Vegas. This is one of the most gripping dramas that I have ever seen and Cage absolutely deserved the Oscar he won for this role as an alcoholic on a downward spiral that he has no power to stop.

Based on a novel of the same name, Leaving Las Vegas follows the story of Ben Sanderson (Cage) whose life is unraveling because of alcoholism. He is not a violent or nasty drunk but he is obviously drunk much of the time. As a result of his drinking, he has lost his job and his wife. He decides to go to Las Vegas and befriends Sera (Elisabeth Shue), a prostitute who is also down on her luck. These two seemingly hopeless souls come together and become soulmates.

I warn you upfront this is not a happy film but it is a touching film and the performances by both Cage and Shue are so poignant that you can't help from walking away touched by this film. The film received four Academy Award nominations including Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Director. Nic Cage won the well deserved Oscar for Best Actor.

If you were moved by Leaving Las Vegas, You should also see When a Man Loves a Woman

nic cage gritty con air
nic cage gritty con air

2. Con Air (1997)

Non-Stop Action Thousands of Feet in the Air

Cage is known for his roles in action thriller films. He brings tough guy grittiness to his action roles while also providing a witty humorous side. Con Air is definitely one of his best non-stop action thrillers.

Cameron Poe (Cage) is a highly decorated former Army Ranger who ended up in prison defending his wife from some thugs when he accidentally kills one of them. He spends several years in prison for involuntary manslaughter and is getting out on good behavior. However, on his flight home he has to share a plane with some of the most dangerous and mentally unstable prisoners. The prisoners, let by Cyrus Grissom (John Malkovich), take control of the plane and now Poe has to find a way to stop them from the inside.

The film was a strong performer at the box office grossing over $223 million, because of its high level of action and strong cast. It is a true classic action movie lovers and Nicolas Cages fans. In most good action films it is the villains that really make the film and it is no different in Con Air. Both Malkovich and Steve Buscemi create memorable villains in this con movie.

If you liked Nic Cage in Con Air... - You should also check him out in The Rock

face off nic cage
face off nic cage

1. Face/Off

The Ultimate Plot Twisting Action Thriller

Both Nicolas Cage and John Travolta were riding high when they took on this action thrill ride, after recent critically-acclaimed successes in Leaving Las Vegas and Pulp Fiction, respectively. They paired with legendary director, John Woo, in this well written sci fi action thriller. With that blueprint, it is no surprise that Face/Off was a smash hit grossing over $245 million worldwide.

The film is the story of two enemies, -- terrorist Castor Troy (Cage) and FBI agent Sean Archer (Travolta). Archer is still reeling from the death of his son, Michael, and he believes Castor is responsible for his death. After capturing Troy, Archer learns that he has planted a nuclear device that is capable of destroying Los Angeles. Of course, Troy is not going to tell them where it is but they Feds decide to try a radical procedure to infiltrate his gang and get Troy's brother, Pollux Troy (Alessandro Nivola), to tell them the whereabouts. To do that, Archer must undergo a radical procedure to trade faces with Troy.

While a highly unbelievable premise, the film is quite enjoyable. If you can turn off your realism meter for base "face-changing" premise, you will find that they action and twists in the film will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout. It is also a unique experience to have your protaganist in disguise as the villain. It plays with your mind a bit throughout the film.

If you enjoyed Nicolas Cage in Face/Off, you should also like Training Day

Tell us which is the best Nicolas Cage film?

See results

So, what do you think of Nic Cage ? - Are you a fan of movies with Nicolas Cage ?

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    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      3 years ago from Oklahoma

      Big Nic Cage fan. I enjoyed the list, though I would have gone about it a bit differently.

    • NickHerc profile image


      4 years ago

      Loved Lord of War. Next on the list is Leaving Las Vegas.

    • Underrated profile image


      5 years ago

      One of my favorite actors. He sure has a lot of great movies, but a lot of them are really bad too.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image


      6 years ago

      I love his movies.

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      6 years ago from Ljubljana

      You gotta love him!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I like Nic, whenever I see he is in a movie, I see it.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      He is one of my favorite actors, each movie has different story and unique. I can choose only one movie to be the top 1. I can choose 5 to be top 1.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Great actor and a wonderful list of movies!


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