I watched 81 Nicolas Cage movies to rank the actor’s top films — here’s where to stream his 16 best movies

I watched 81 Nicolas Cage movies to rank the actor’s top films — here’s where to stream his 16 best movies

Back to Top A white circle with a black border surrounding a chevron pointing up. It indicates ‘click here to go back to the top of the page.’ Back to Top All Tech Audio Accessories Batteries & Charging Cameras Computers Gaming Fitness Headphones Home Theater Laptops Printers & Scanners Smart Home Smartphones Storage Tablets TVs…

Back to Top A white circle with a black border surrounding a chevron pointing up. It indicates ‘click here to go back to the top of the page.’

Back to Top

Side-by-side of Nicholas Cage in 'The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent' on the left and James Brains holding a bowl of popcorn and a sequined Nicholas Cage pillow



Lionsgate; James Brains/Insider


When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

  • Oscar-winning actor Nicolas Cage has brought unique intensity to every role in his 40-year career.
  • He’s won awards for his work in “Leaving Las Vegas,” “Lord of War,” “Pig,” and more.
  • You can stream some of his best movies on services like Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, and HBO Max.

Loading Something is loading.

Nicolas Cage is a national treasure. Whether you love him or hate him, you have to admit he’s an incredibly talented actor with an immense range that makes him equally believable in comedies, dramas, action films, and thrillers.

To prepare for the April 22 release of Cage’s new film “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent,” I watched all 81 of his movies to select the very best of the best. 

Below, I broke down what makes each of my picks special, along with details on where you can watch each movie right now. If you’re a fellow fan or just someone looking to catch up on the actor’s extensive filmography, this list ranks the essential Nicolas Cage movies you won’t want to miss.

Methodology

To determine which Nicolas Cage movies made the cut, I weighed each of the following metrics equally when ranking the actor’s films:

  • Rotten Tomatoes‘ Tomatometer rating based on reviews from critics
  • My personal rating of a film on a scale of one to 10 based on its entertainment and artistic value
  • My subjective rating on a scale of one to 10 of each movie’s “Cage Factor”

To be included among the best Nicolas Cage movies, a film must have at least 60% on the Tomatometer at time of publication, and at least a six in each of my two personal ratings. 

When choosing eligible titles, I didn’t include movies where:

  • Cage was just a voice actor
  • He wasn’t a top-five billed actor
  • There wasn’t a Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer rating

What is the Cage Factor?

Cage is well known for his passionate acting and uniquely entertaining performance choices. The “Cage Factor” rates how clearly that passion comes through in his character’s intensity.

It could be through wild voice modulation, but he can also get there with just a look, as illustrated by countless memes. He’s willing to go to a level that isn’t necessarily over-acting but that’s beyond what most actors are capable of. The Cage Factor can turn a boring, poorly written movie into a must-see classic.

Based on my comprehensive research, here are the 16 best Nicolas Cage movies and where to watch them

16. ‘Lord of War’

Nicolas Cage stands in a war zone in the movie Lord of War.



Lionsgate


Watch “Lord of War” on Peacock Premium

Cage plays a Ukrainian-born, NY-raised arms dealer, who profits from the sale of post-Cold War stockpiles to terrorists. Endorsed by Amnesty International, “Lord of War” is inspired by the lives of real-life arms smugglers, but the film is fictional. Still, it’s an important eye-opening movie that avoids heavy-handedness.

15. ‘Honeymoon in Vegas’

Nicolas Cage marries Sarah Jessica Parker in front of the Flying Elvises in Honeymoon in Vegas.



New Line Cinema


Rent “Honeymoon in Vegas” on Apple TV for $4

In this romantic comedy, Jack Singer (Cage) takes his longtime girlfriend Betsy Nolan (Sarah Jessica Parker) to Las Vegas to get married. Before they can tie the knot, Singer loses big at poker. To settle his debt, Nolan must spend the weekend with a high roller (James Caan). If you can get past the problematic premise and portrayals of Hawaiians, this is an entertaining romcom aided by a flamboyant Cage. But, some aspects of the movie haven’t aged well over the last 30 years. If you do watch it, keep your eyes peeled for a young Bruno Mars doing an Elvis impression.

14. ‘The Trust’

Nicolas Cage is angry with Elijah Wood in the movie The Trust.



Saban Capital Group


Watch “The Trust” on Pluto TV and Tubi free with ads

“The Trust” has not received the love it deserves. Cage and Elijah Wood play crooked Las Vegas cops, who are looking to rob drug dealers. The duo’s chemistry, along with Cage’s flashes of wildness, carry the film. It’s an interesting look at how greed can drive and destroy people. “The Trust” features the last role Jerry Lewis filmed before his death.

13. ‘The Rock’

Nicolas Cage defuses a bomb while Sean Connery looks on in The Rock.



Walt Disney Studios


Watch “The Rock” on Amazon Prime Video

In “The Rock,” Cage plays an FBI agent in the antiterrorism unit. He’s called in to help stop a former marine, who has taken people hostage at Alcatraz and is threatening to launch a biological weapon. The movie, directed by Michael Bay, is far-fetched, and I get bored during some of the action scenes. That said, the performances from Cage and Sean Connery are enough to keep me engaged.

12. ‘Mom and Dad’

Nicolas Cage has an intense look in his eye in Mom and Dad.



XYZ Films


Watch “Mom and Dad” on Starz or with the Starz add-on on Amazon Prime Video or Hulu

What if parents developed an inexplicable homicidal rage towards their own kids? This is the premise of the horror thriller “Mom and Dad.” Cage is the eponymous dad, unhinged for most of the movie and constantly sputtering hilarious lines. The simple plot is entertaining and absorbing, and the film tackles deeper themes, including losing your sense of self as you age.

11. ‘Peggy Sue Got Married’

Nicolas Cage leads a quartet singing in Peggy Sue Got Married.



RLJ Entertainment, Inc.


Watch “Peggy Sue Got Married” on HBO Max and Hulu

Cage is the estranged husband of Peggy Sue (Kathleen Turner), who faints at a reunion and travels back in time 25 years to her high school days. This adds a level of hilarity to the film as the actors play the same role in both timelines, at ages 17 and 42. Cage has this weird nasally voice throughout that apparently annoyed Turner, but the director, Cage’s uncle Francis Ford Coppola, allowed it, thus adding to the film’s Cage Factor.

10. ‘Moonstruck’

Cher and Nicolas Cage dress up in Moonstruck.



Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer


Watch “Moonstruck” on HBO Max

Cher plays a widow named Loretta, who reluctantly agrees to marry Johnny (Donny Aiello). While Johnny is in Italy visiting his dying mother, Loretta is tasked with inviting Johnny’s estranged brother, Ronny (Cage), to the wedding. Ronny and Loretta fall in love. Cage doesn’t appear until 25 minutes into the movie, but he makes a dramatic impression when he does. “Moonstruck” was nominated for six Oscars.

9. ‘Color Out of Space’

Nicolas Cage checks out some weirdness in Color Out of Space.



SpectreVision


Watch “Color Out of Space” with Shudder or AMC Plus add-ons on Amazon Prime Video

In this horror movie based on an H.P. Lovecraft story, Cage is the patriarch, flipping out regularly as his family slowly devolves into madness after a meteor lands in their yard. Though it’s far-fetched and confusing (i.e., Lovecraftian), “Color Out of Space” is beautifully shot, and the mystery keeps you engaged. Colin Stetson’s music is also a major asset.

8. ‘Vampire’s Kiss’

Nicolas Cage walks around New York City disheveled carrying a wooden stake in Vampire’s Kiss.



Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer


Rent “Vampire’s Kiss” on Apple TV and Vudu for $4

“Vampire’s Kiss” is the movie by which all other Cage movies should be measured when it comes to The Cage Factor. The actor plays a literary agent who becomes a vampire and terrorizes his secretary, New York City, and himself. It’s an interesting psychological thriller, horror, and comedy all wrapped into one.

7. ‘The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent’

Nick Cage demonstrates the Palm Hold Fist salute as he arrives in Mallorca, Spain in the Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.



Lionsgate


Now playing only in theaters (not currently available to stream)

Cage plays “Nick Cage,” an actor who is known for never turning down a part. As bills pile up, he agrees to attend a wealthy playboy’s (Pedro Pascal) birthday party for $1 million. Of course, nothing goes as planned. I had sky-high hopes for this movie, and though it didn’t quite meet them, the film is still an entertaining celebration of Cage. Much of the humor relies upon the absurdity of Cage being in various situations. The ending is also great, and I like the message of nurturing your child’s interests rather than forcing yours onto them.

6. ‘Matchstick Men’

Nicolas Cage gives Alison Lohman an earful in Matchstick Men.



Warner Bros. Pictures


Watch “Matchstick Men” on HBO Max

Cage plays a con artist who suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder. He discovers he has a teenage daughter (Alison Lohman) and tries to develop a relationship with her. Sam Rockwell turns in a great performance as Cage’s partner in crime. Overall, the movie is engaging and clever. The Cage Factor would be higher if his character wasn’t trying so hard to be less erratic throughout.

5. ‘Wild at Heart’

Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern dance dirtily in Wild at Heart



The Samuel Goldwyn Company


Buy the Blu-ray on Amazon for $18 (not currently available to stream)

Considering David Lynch is my favorite director and Nicolas Cage is my favorite actor, it’s no surprise that “Wild at Heart” is my favorite Cage movie. Cage plays Sailor Ripley, a snakeskin jacket-wearing Elvis wannabe, who just wants to live the American dream with his girlfriend Lula Fortune (Laura Dern). Unfortunately, Lula’s mom (Diane Ladd, Dern’s real-life mother) has other plans. Willem Dafoe and Crispin Glover also contribute brilliant performances to a brilliant, albeit very strange and violent film.

4. ‘Mandy’

Nicolas Cage admiring his awesome ax in Mandy.



SpectreVision


Watch “Mandy” with Shudder or AMC+ Plus add-ons on Amazon Prime

“Mandy” is one of the many movies where Cage plays a character out for revenge. In this case, his wife (Andrea Riseborough) is abducted by a hippie cult. The story is enthralling, and it goes beyond the extreme violence of most action horror films — though there’s plenty of that too — to deliver an important message about the dangers of male fragility. The late Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson does an outstanding job of scoring this visually stunning film.

3. ‘Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans’

Nicolas Cage holding up two fingers while making a maniacal face in Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans.



Lionsgate


Watch “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans” on Peacock

“Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans” is what happens when you pair one of the world’s most intense directors with one of its most intense actors. In Werner Herzog’s film, Cage plays a cop who injured his back in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He slowly descends into painkiller addiction and wild debauchery. At times, “Bad Lieutenant” is hard to watch with its depictions of abuse of power, but it’s worth the price of admission just to witness Herzog and Cage at their best.

2. ‘Pig’

Nicolas Cage sitting at a table with a glass of red wine in front of him and his face all bloodied and bruised in Pig.



Neon


Watch “Pig” on Hulu

Released in 2021, “Pig” features Cage in a quiet, brooding role. We meet his character living off-the-grid in Oregon with a truffle-hunting pig. One night, thieves break into his home, beat him, and take the pig. Covered with dried blood throughout the movie, Cage travels to Portland and confronts his past to find his missing animal friend. The film does a good job of exploring several themes, including friendship, what drives us, and how we relate to the food we eat. I cried during some scenes. It’s just a powerful film.

1. ‘Leaving Las Vegas’

Nicolas Cage drinks while at the bottom of a swimming pool, and Elisabeth Shue comes to save him in Leaving Las Vegas.

Cage pays homage to this scene from “Leaving Las Vegas” in his new film, “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.”

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer


Watch “Leaving Las Vegas” on Tubi and Pluto TV (free with ads)

Cage is an alcoholic screenwriter who loses his job and wife, so he drives to Las Vegas, where he plans to drink himself to death. While there, he befriends a sex worker (Elisabeth Shue), and they develop a powerful connection. This is a truly incredible yet disturbing film about two deeply flawed people finding each other. Cage won a well-deserved Oscar for his role.

Honorable mentions

Nicolas Cage as Charlie Kaufman talking to his twin brother Donald Kaufman (also Nicolas Cage) in Adaptation.

Nicolas Cage plays Charlie Kaufman and his fictional twin brother Donald Kaufman in “Adaptation.”

Columbia Pictures


Here are 10 Cage movies that didn’t quite meet the total score needed to make my list, but are still worth watching:

  • “8mm” (Tubi with ads): This has a low Tomatameter rating (23%) and Cage Factor (3) and is incredibly disturbing, but the mystery sucks you in.
  • “Adaptation” (HBO Max): This movie lacks Cage Factor (4) but it makes up for it by having Cage play two roles. He plays a version of the film’s actual screenwriter, Charlie Kaufman, and his fictional twin brother.
  • “Army of One” (HBO Max): This film has the second-highest Cage Factor (9) of all the movies I watched, but its other scores kept it off the main list. It’s based on the true story of Gary Faulkner (Cage), an unemployed handyman who believes God (Russell Brand) wants him to go to Pakistan to kill Osama bin Laden.
  • “Bringing out the Dead” ($4 to rent on Amazon Prime Video): My low Cage Factor score (4) kept this film off the main list, but it’s still a great movie. Cage plays an overworked EMT in NYC during the early ’90s. This is one of director Martin Scorsese’s most underappreciated works.
  • “Deadfall” (Amazon Prime Video with MovieSphere add-on): Cage’s character in this pulpy, 0%-Tomatometer film is so flamboyant that he played the same role in a totally different movie (Arsenal) 24 years later.
  • “Face/Off” ($4 to rent on Amazon Prime Video): Cage is great in this, the critics love it, but it just has too many plot holes for me to give it a high rating. Still, it’s worth seeing. Please don’t @ me.
  • “Raising Arizona” ($4 to rent on Amazon Prime Video): When you put Cage in a Coen Brothers’ film, you’re going to get a masterpiece. That’s just what “Raising Arizona” is, yet Cage is just a little too subdued to score high on the Cage Factor (5).
  • “Snake Eyes” (Showtime): Again, magic happens when Cage works with a great director. In this case, it’s Brian De Palma. Unfortunately, the Tomatometer got it wrong (40%).
  • “The Wicker Man” ($3 to rent on YouTube): The critics also panned “The Wicker Man” (15%), a remake of a 1973 horror movie, but I find it engaging and love Cage’s performance.
  • “Willy’s Wonderland” (Hulu): I don’t think Cage speaks at all in this 2021 horror action film, yet he gets most of the screen time. He plays a man who gets conned into cleaning up a cursed Chuck E. Cheese-like establishment. With a Cage Factor of 5, this one barely missed the cut.

James Brains

Home & Kitchen Reporter, Insider Reviews

James is a Home & Kitchen Reporter for Insider Reviews, where he specializes in sleep, HVAC, and kitchen appliances. 
He has tested more than 30 mattresses from startups like Casper and legacy brands like Tempur-Pedic, using his background in experimental psychology to develop objective tests and evaluate comfort, support, motion transfer, and more. He authors our guide to the best mattresses
In addition to being Insider Reviews’ mattress expert, James has extensively covered robot vacuums, air conditioners, air purifiers, and more within the HVAC space. He’s tested more than 20 robot vacs from brands like iRobot and Roborock over the years and is no stranger to keeping his house at a chilly 60 degrees Fahrenheit for weeks on end all in the name of testing air conditioners.
He’s a multifaceted writer who has covered everything from health and fitness to consumer technology. His mission is to help people get the most value for their money by guiding them in making informed buying decisions.
James is currently based in Lansing, Michigan, where he lives in “The Barn Mansion,” a three-story Dutch colonial home, with his wife, two sons, two cats, and a rambunctious rat terrier. 
When James isn’t testing products and writing for Insider, he’s helping to run a popular local Facebook group, Lansing Foodies.
See below for some of his work:
The best mattress for every type of sleeper in 2021, according to our rigorous testing
The 6 best robot vacuums we tested in 2021
The 6 best air conditioners we tested in 2021
The best Instant Pots and electric pressure cookers we tested in 2021
10 grilling essentials that chefs and pitmasters swear by for making the best BBQ
The 5 best mattress toppers we tested in 2021
Contact info: jbrains@insider.com
Learn more about how our team of experts tests and reviews products at Insider here.
Learn more about how we test kitchen products.


More:

Streaming
Insider Reviews 2022
Insider Picks
Celebrity

Chevron icon It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

Read More

Breydon Water: Norfolk lifeboat crews rescue 17 people and three pets Previous post Breydon Water: Norfolk lifeboat crews rescue 17 people and three pets
Top heavyweight boxer Tyson Fury defends his belt against Dillian Whyte on April 23 — here’s how to watch live Next post Top heavyweight boxer Tyson Fury defends his belt against Dillian Whyte on April 23 — here’s how to watch live

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.