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Nicolas Cage in 'Con-Air' (1997) | Image: Touchstone Pictures

14 Best Nicolas Cage Movies

With a career as varied as his hairpiece collection, Nicolas Cage is currently making waves in WA’s South West region, the backdrop for his latest flick The Surfer. We’re not kidding when we say Nicolas Cage’s career is vast – a quick look at his IMDB page shows this Hollywood oddball has racked up about 116 film credits over the last 30-plus years. And, with another new movie slated to hit cinemas in November, it’s safe to say Nicolas Cage is an international treasure (heh).

Best Nicolas Cage Movies at a Glance

Nicolas Cage Best Movies List

Known for his “why not?” approach to script selection, Nic Cage proves that one man’s absurdity is another man’s art. As such, narrowing down his best films was like choosing our favourite memes of the man – an almost impossible task. Anyway, the good news is we’ve managed to do it so get comfy as we unveil the best Nicolas Cage movies. 

Nicolas Cage as a hermit eating with a pig
Nicolas Cage as Robin Feld in ‘Pig’ | Image: David Reamer/NEON

Pig (2021)

  • Director: Michael Sarnoski
  • Co-stars: Alex Wolff, Adam Arkin
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 97%
  • Global Box Office: $7.4 million (USD)

In Pig, Cage takes on the role of Rob, a reclusive truffle hunter on a mission to find his missing pig. Set in Portland’s foodie scene, the film digs into themes of loss, loneliness, and emotional bonds. As Rob navigates the high-end culinary world, he embarks on a quest that leads to self-discovery, touching on issues like identity and consumerism. The movie might sound a bit odd, but don’t let that fool you—it’s a deeply moving Nic Cage movie that showcases one of his most memorable performances.

Elisabeth Shue hugging Nicolas Cage
Nicolas Cage as Ben Sanderson and Elisabeth Shue as Sera in ‘Leaving Las Vegas’ | Image: United Artists

Leaving Las Vegas (1995)

  • Director: Mike Figgis
  • Co-stars: Elisabeth Shue, Julian Sands
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 90%
  • Global Box Office: USD$49.8 million

The film that earned Nic Cage his only Best Actor Oscar to date, Leaving Las Vegas is an incredibly powerful movie. Cage plays Ben Sanderson, a Hollywood screenwriter plagued by alcoholism who moves to Las Vegas with the explicit intent to drink himself to death. There, he forms an unlikely relationship with Sera, a compassionate prostitute played by Elisabeth Shue. It’s a grim, no-holds-barred look at the debilitating effects of addiction, and it unfolds like a slow-motion car crash that’s impossible to look away from. Through a lens of brutal honesty, the film explores themes of human vulnerability, loneliness, and the dark complexities of love and addiction.

Nicolas Cage arresting Lara Flynn Boyle and escorting her inside a car
Nicolas Cage as Michael Williams and Lara Flynn Boyle as Suzanne Brown in Red Rock West | Image: Propaganda Films/PolyGram Filmed Entertainment/Roxie Releasing

Red Rock West (1993)

  • Director: John Dahl
  • Co-stars: Dennis Hopper, Lara Flynn Boyle
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 95%
  • Global Box Office: USD$2.5 million

Don’t let the box office numbers fool you – Red Rock West is a neo-noir thriller that transformed into a cult classic. Tragically overlooked on its release, it casts Cage as Michael, a down-on-his-luck drifter who is mistaken for a hitman and becomes embroiled in a complex web spun by a scheming husband and his treacherous wife. This tight, suspenseful story features numerous plot twists that keep viewers on the edge of their seats. 

Medium shot of Nicolas Cage wearing red sunglasses and a red patterned robe exposing his chest
Nicolas Cage as a fictionalised version of himself in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent | Image: Katalin Vermes/Lionsgate

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (2022)

  • Director: Tom Gormican
  • Co-stars: Pedro Pascal, Sharon Horgan
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 87%
  • Global Box Office: USD$29.1 million

In The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, Nicolas Cage plays a fictional version of himself who is desperate to land a role in a Quentin Tarantino movie while also struggling with debt. He accepts a USD$1 million offer to attend a fan’s birthday party (none other than Pedro Pascal) but soon discovers that things are not as they seem. The meta-concept offers a rich playground for exploring Cage’s own eccentric filmography while folding in action, comedy, and even some emotional beats. It’s a clever, self-referential romp that mixes reality with fiction in unexpected ways, creating a laugh-out-loud flick any Nic Cage fan is guaranteed to love. 

Nicolas Cage holding a torch and looking at artifacts
Nicolas Cage as Benjamin Franklin Gates in National Treasure | Image: Disney Enterprises, Inc./Jerry Bruckheimer, Inc.

National Treasure (2004)

  • Director: Jon Turteltaub
  • Co-stars: Diane Kruger, Justin Bartha
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 46%
  • Global Box Office: USD$347.5 million

Possibly one of his most well-known films, National Treasure is, well, a global treasure. Cage plays Benjamin Franklin Gates, a historian and amateur cryptologist searching for a Revolutionary War treasure. Despite its low critical rating, National Treasure still managed to find commercial success. But then, it’s an action-packed Nic Cage flick mixed with intriguing historical puzzles! Who wouldn’t wanna watch that? The film takes viewers on a whirlwind tour of historical landmarks across the United States, blending education with entertainment. It’s silly, it’s fun, it’s totally Nic Cage and we love it. 

Nicolas Cage strangling John Travolta
Nicolas Cage as Castor Troy and John Travolta as Sean Archer in Face/Off | Image: Stephen Vaughan/Paramount/Touchstone/Kobal

Face/Off (1997)

  • Director: John Woo
  • Co-stars: John Travolta, Joan Allen
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 92%
  • Global Box Office: USD$245.7 million

In this high-octane action thriller, Cage and John Travolta switch faces—literally. Cage plays Castor Troy, a ruthless terrorist, who ends up wearing the face of his nemesis, an FBI agent (Travolta), due to a surgical procedure. What follows is a delirious chase full of double identities, stylised action, and, of course, over-the-top performances you can’t help but obsess over. Face/Off is often referred to as one of the quintessential action movies of the ’90s, offering a blend of suspense, sci-fi, and character-driven drama.

Nicolas Cage running away from an explosion
Nicolas Cage as Cameron Poe in Con-Air | Image: Buena Vista/Everett/Rex

Con-Air (1997)

  • Director: Simon West
  • Co-stars: John Cusack, John Malkovich, Steve Buscemi
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 58%
  • Global Box Office: USD$224 million

The Rotten Tomatoes rating may not be particularly kind to Simon West’s 1997 sky-high blockbuster, but it would be impossible to curate a list of Nicolas Cage films without mentioning Con-Air. Featuring Cage in arguably his most famous role, the movie is the perfect amalgamation of action and stupidity, played out at 30,000 feet. Our loveable hero plays a newly paroled ex-con and former U.S. Ranger Cameron Poe, who finds himself trapped in a prisoner transport plane that is hijacked by a team of criminals. Poe must sabotage the mission, save the plane, and prevent total chaos from reigning down on the civilians below, all for the love of his country.

Needless to say, Con-Air is a ridiculous premise that by and large, makes little sense, however, that does nothing to diminish the tension. Featuring an all-star cast that includes Steve Buscemi, John Cusack and John Malkovich in a terrifying role, the action smash is a proverbial buffet of ’90s star power. Even Cage’s wandering accent, which starts Southern and slowly deteriorates into a mix of Irish, Canadian and Australian isn’t enough to stop this action vehicle from making a crash landing in our hearts.

Nicolas cage holding a custom axe
Nicolas Cage as Red Miller in Mandy | Image: RLJE Films

Mandy (2018)

  • Director: Panos Cosmatos
  • Co-stars: Andrea Riseborough, Linus Roache
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 90%
  • Global Box Office: USD$1.4 million

Cage gives an electrifying performance in Mandy, a phantasmagoric revenge thriller. It hit theatres in 2018 on a limited release run (hence the low box office numbers) but ended up earning critical acclaim for Cage’s incredibly committed performance. Set in 1983, he plays Red Miller, a lumberjack out for vengeance after a cult murders his love, Mandy. Fusing elements of horror, fantasy, and action, the film takes viewers on a hallucinatory journey through nightmarish landscapes. 

Cher in a black dress beside Niclas Cage in a tuxedo
Cher as Loretta Castorini and Nicolas Cage as Ronny Cammareri in Moonstruck | Image: Allstar/MGM

Moonstruck (1987)

  • Director: Norman Jewison
  • Co-stars: Cher, Olympia Dukakis
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 94%
  • Global Box Office: USD$91.6 million

In this romantic comedy-drama, Cage plays Ronny Cammareri, a passionate and irritable baker who falls in love with a woman (Cher) engaged to his brother. Set in the Italian-American enclave of Brooklyn, Moonstruck explores love in all its illogical, complicated beauty. The film received critical acclaim and was a commercial success, capturing the quirks and nuances of love and family in a way that resonated across generations.

Nicolas Cage holding a blond baby with Holly Hunter behind him
Nicolas Cage as H.I. McDunnough and Holly Hunter as Ed McDunnough in Raising Arizona | Image: Circle Films/20th Century Fox

Raising Arizona (1987)

  • Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
  • Co-stars: Holly Hunter, Trey Wilson
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 91%
  • Global Box Office: USD$29.2 million

This screwball comedy directed by the Coen brothers stars Cage as H.I. McDunnough, an ex-convict who, along with his wife, Ed (Holly Hunter), kidnaps a quintuplet to raise as their own. The film delves into a surreal, slightly twisted American Southwest, complete with oddball characters and off-the-wall situations. Raising Arizona is full of rapid-fire dialogue, visual gags, and a distinctive comedic rhythm that make it a standout in both Cage’s and the Coens’ filmographies. 

Nicolas Cage portrays identical twins Charlie and Donald Kaufman through split screen photography
Nicolas Cage as Charlie and Donald Kaufman in Adaptation | Image: Maximum Film/Columbia Pictures

Adaptation (2002)

  • Director: Spike Jonze
  • Co-stars: Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 91%
  • Global Box Office: USD$32.8 million

Adaptation features Cage in a dual role as Charlie and Donald Kaufman, brothers who are polar opposites. Charlie is a neurotic screenwriter struggling to adapt a nonfiction book, while Donald is a breezy, aspiring writer. The film offers a meta-narrative that blurs the lines between fiction and reality, challenging viewers to consider the nature of storytelling itself. It’s a complex, intellectually stimulating movie that nevertheless offers emotional resonance, largely thanks to Cage’s nuanced performances. 

Close up of Nicolase Cage and Julianne Nicholson face to face
Nicolas Cage as Paul Matthews and Julianne Nicholson as Janet Matthews in Dream Scenario | Image: A24

Dream Scenario (2023)

  • Director: Kristoffer Borgli
  • Co-stars: Lily Bird, Julianne Nicholson
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 92%

We’ve added Nicolas Cage’s newest (unreleased) film to the list because all signs point to this film being one of his best movies yet. Dream Scenario, directed by Kristoffer Borgli, stars Cage as Paul Matthews, a nondescript university professor who becomes an unexpected figure in people’s dreams. Slated for release in the US on November 10, 2023 (and looking like it’ll hit Australia and New Zealand on Jan 1st 2024) it premiered at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival to rave reviews. The movie weaves a tapestry of comedy, dread, and surreal fantasy, reminiscent of Cage’s offbeat roles in Adaptation and The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. As audiences navigate the blurred lines between Paul’s reality and the collective subconscious, Dream Scenario is set to be a mind-bending trip that challenges our perception of normality.

Sean Connery watching Nicolas Cage pull out a green chemical weapon
Nicolas Cage as Stanley Goodspeed and Sean Connery as retired Captain John Patrick Mason in The Rock | Image: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

The Rock (1996)

  • Director: Michael Bay
  • Co-stars: Ed Harris, Sean Connery
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 67%
  • Global Box Office: USD$335 million

The Rock could well be the greatest ’90s action extravaganza ever committed to film. The Michael Bay-helmed epic pairs Cage with seasoned action veteran Sean Connery as the two mismatched anti-heroes attempt to thwart a potential chemical weapon attack from Alcatraz. It’s got everything you would want from a Nicolas Cage action flick: intense fight scenes, weird sex scenes, and a lead actor who seems to have absolutely no volume control. Ed Harris does an impeccable job as the military veteran turned terrorist hellbent on making his presence felt, while Sean Connery steers the ship as the disgruntled, ageing criminal with a heart of gold.

Edited image of Nicolas Cage with his arms around the character Grug from the animated movie The Croods
Nicolas Cage as Grug in The Croods | Image: DreamWorks Animation/20th Century Fox

The Croods (2013)

  • Director: Kirk DeMicco, Chris Sanders
  • Co-stars: Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 71%
  • Global Box Office: USD$587.2 million

The Croods is Cage’s most successful movie at the box office, raking in USD$587.2 million globally. In this heartfelt flick, Cage lends his voice to Grug, the overprotective patriarch of a prehistoric family. Set in a fantastical world of strange creatures and stunning landscapes, The Croods cleverly combines humour, heartfelt emotion, and big life lessons, making it a serious hit among kids and adults alike. 

Honorable Mentions

When it comes to an actor like Nicolas Cage, there’s no shortage of source material to judge. Over a career spanning more than three decades, Cage has amassed a varied resume of titles that feels perfectly unbalanced, so reducing it to the cream of the crop was no mean feat. For this list, we chose to focus on films where Nicolas Cage played the lead role, rather than great films in which he was a supporting character.

For example, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is among the top-rated films in Nicolas Cage’s filmography. However, his limited screen time prevented the film from making the list. Similarly, there were incredible hits from early in his career, including Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Vampire’s Kiss, Wild at Heart and Peggy Sue Got Married that could have all made the list.

How We Chose This List of Best Nicolas Cage Movies

Our criteria weighed multiple factors including critical acclaim, audience reception, cultural impact, artistic merit, and the versatility of roles Cage has undertaken. As expert journalists, we have also provided our independent opinion in formulating Man of Many’s selections. The resulting list aims to capture not just the highlights of Cage’s career, but also the sheer breadth of his talent, offering something for both dedicated fans and newcomers alike. You can review our editorial policy surrounding how we maintain our independence in our editorial reviews. 

Alternatives to Nicolas Cage Movies

Not a Nic Cage fan? It’s okay, we’ll let it slide just this once. If you’re looking for a list of cracker movies for your next big night in, here are some that are sure to tickle ya fancy.

Nic Cage Movies FAQs

What is Nic Cage’s highest-rated movie?

If we’re talking highest rated on Rotten Tomatoes amongst movie charts, then topping the charts are Pig and Red Rock West. Both boast a stellar 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. Pig released in 2021, delves into the story of a truffle hunter’s desperate search for his kidnapped pig, and it received critical acclaim for its heartfelt storytelling and Cage’s compelling performance. Red Rock West (1993), is a neo-noir crime thriller that also won over critics, becoming a cult classic over time.

What was Nicolas Cage’s biggest movie?

Clocking in as Nicolas Cage’s most commercially successful film is The Croods, which amassed an impressive AUD$926.63 million at the global box office. Released in 2013 by DreamWorks Animation, this animated adventure comedy features an ensemble cast including Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, and Catherine Keener. The film’s success has been so impactful that it led to multiple spin-offs, including a sequel, a television series, and even video games.

What movie did Nicolas Cage get an Oscar for?

Nicolas Cage received an Academy Award for his unforgettable role in Leaving Las Vegas (1995). In this critically acclaimed drama, Cage portrays a self-destructive alcoholic writer who forms an intense relationship with a prostitute, played by Elisabeth Shue. His performance was universally praised and stands as one of the most powerful in his career, cementing his place as one of Hollywood’s greatest actors.