Adaptation and the Best Nicolas Cage Movies You Need to Watch

Nicolas Cage at Festival de Venise

Nicolas Cage is dominating the entertainment headlines at the moment, thanks to a solid turn as Dracula in his latest film, Renfield.

The horror comedy has scored a solid 75% critics rating at Rotten Tomatoes already, making it one of the best Nicolas Cage movies in recent years.

Whether you saw Renfield yet or not, you’re here because you need more Nic Cage. The man has been acting for decades, so there are certainly a lot of options for you to consider.

So, where to begin? I’ll do my best to carve things down and point you to the 10 best Nicolas Cage movies worth watching next.

10. Con-Air (1997)

It’s tough to come to a finite list of Nicolas Cage’s best movies. To be fair, this isn’t purely based on Rotten Tomatoes ratings or a bunch of critics.

If it were, this 1997 action blockbuster wouldn’t stand a chance in cracking my top 10 Nic Cage films.

After all, it sports an underwhelming 58% critics rating at Rotten Tomatoes.

Of course, this movie is definitely silly and not very realistic. However, it scored a solid 75% audience rating for one very good reason; it kicks serious ass.

Cage is a convincing badass as an ex-soldier finally getting out of prison. All he wants to do is see his kid and live his life, while a murderer’s row of brutal but fun villains do their best to mess up his plans.

Con-Air is stupid, but it’s also tons of fun. That’s a running theme with a lot of good Nicolas Cage movies, and it’s something you simply have to embrace.

9. Matchstick Men (2003)

While there are some really good Nicolas Cage movies that are actually bad, here’s one that is just flat out good.

Cage is certainly bashed by critics a lot – and sometimes rightfully so – but don’t be fooled; the dude can act.

You get to see it in Matchstick Men, where he plays an OCD con man who is really good at what he does, but comes with some glaring flaws.

One of them happens to be trusting the wrong people, and he ultimately gets mixed up with a rising Sam Rockwell in this underrated Ridley Scott gem. It’s not his best work, but it’s not easy to forget.

8. Raising Arizona (1987)

Before Nicolas Cage was a bit time action star, he first showed his comedic chops in this 1987 classic, which also gave us an early look into the brilliance of the Coen Brothers.

It’s an oddball kidnapping tale gone wrong, as Cage teams up with Holly Hunter to raise a child that isn’t theirs.

Hilarity unsurprisingly ensues, giving us a launching pad for Cage’s illustrious career, and perhaps his greatest performance ever.

It’s certainly one of the highest-rated Nicolas Cage movies out there, with Raising Arizona still holding strong at 90% in the eyes of critics.

7. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (2022)

Somewhere in the middle of my top 10 Nicolas Cage movies has to be his latest hit, which is a buddy cop flick that literally has him playing a version of himself.

Losing sight of what is important in life – other than himself – Cage is thrust into a secret spy mission that even his best characters may not be able to live up to.

Cage pulls off the walking caricature brilliantly, while tugging at our heart strings and making us laugh every step of the way.

It’s no shock that it’s scored as one of the best Nic Cage movies and one of his best performances.

In case you weren’t sure; Cage doesn’t take himself too seriously, and he knows how to yuck it up, even when he’s the butt of the joke.

You get a healthy dose of Pedro Pascal in a well-blended dramedy that the critics and audiences alike scored a blistering 87% at Rotten Tomatoes.

6. Leaving Las Vegas (1995)

Want a Nic Cage throwback that shows his raw acting talent, dives into some intense subject matter, and still rings in as one of the best dramas in cinema history?

Leaving Las Vegas may be your next Nicolas Cage movie to watch, then. The 1995 hit is loved by critics and audiences alike, and has Cage and Elisabeth Shue forming an unlikely bond.

This mini review by Candice Frederick of Reel Talk Online back in 2017 might say it best.

This movie was like watching a car crash in slow motion. You knew there was going to be a crash, but I just wished it would just happen already, and not have spent two hours getting to the impact.

That might not sound like a glowing review, but sometimes dark material is hard to stomach.

Put simply, Leaving Las Vegas is a classic, and classics are classics for a reason. If you want to see vintage Nicolas Cage, taking a time machine back to 1995 is a good start.

5. Face/Off (1997)

Just a couple of years later we got perhaps Nic Cage’s best action blockbuster ever. The title has a duel meaning, as Cage faces off with John Travolta in a star-driven movie, and they guys also literally take their faces off.

They do put them back on, but on each other’s bodies.

Face/Off’s underlying story is simple enough, as Travolta is trying to take down a terrorist (Cage). When fate gives him a winning hand, he weirdly ups the ante by under-going a surgery that allows him to wear Cage’s face.

Naturally, when Cage’s character awakes from a coma, he takes Travolta’s face. Insanity ensues.

It’s an original concept that is done rather well for a 1997 flick, and we also get two high-energy superstar actors at the height of their prowess.

Travolta vs. Cage in any regard? Sign me up.

Tearing faces off and having two actors play the other guy? Yeah, you had me at Travolta vs. Cage.

4. National Treasure (2004)

Another flick that was not received well by critics but is hands down one of the best Nic Cage movies is National Treasure.

I can’t say as much for the sequel, but the first was a classic globetrotter blockbuster that was nothing if not entertaining.

Do you get vintage Nic Cage? Not really, as he’s considerably more reserved. However, he is the glue to a really fun movie that has some humor, intrigue, and action.

While not his best movie, National Treasure might be Cage’s most entertaining and it’s certainly up your alley if you’re looking for good movies like Indiana Jones.

3. Adaptation (2002)

You never know what you’re going to get when looking at Nicolas Cage movies, as his performances can range from campy to gritty.

In Adaptation, it’s something in between. You actually get two versions of Cage, too, as he plays two very different identical twin brothers.

Mixing into a twisted tale are legendary actors in Meryl Streep and Chris Cooper, while the cast is rounded out by Tilda Swinton and Brian Cox.

Adaptation is a fresh story with a nice mix of humor and drama. It scored a 91% critics rating at Rotten Tomatoes, and is a totally different rendition of Cage than most are accustomed to – in the best way possible.

2. The Rock (1996)

My Nicolas Cage movie rankings are a bit of a mess in the sense that they are not fully on brand or theme. But that’s Nicolas Cage for you, as no movie he’s done is completely like the other.

I’m trying to stick to the more iconic Nicolas Cage films, though, and The Rock definitely qualifies.

This Nic Cage flick pairs the legendary actor with a more distinguished soul in Sean Connery in a movie some view as an extension of Connery’s days as James Bond.

Connery steals the show here and these characters are polar opposites, but it’s a race against time as two unlikely partners try to foil an evil plan by Ed Harris.

It’s a hell of a good time, and if you want a movie filled with memorable one-liners, this one does not disappoint.

1. Pig (2021)

Okay, we’re finally to my number one Nicolas Cage movie. This one isn’t for everyone, but you came here to get one person’s opinion, and Pig is the best Cage-led film I’ve ever seen.

This is not Nic Cage as you know him – at all.

Pig has Cage out in the wilderness as a recluse, hunting for truffles with his best friend, who happens to be a pig. The film sets things up for a glorious John Wick rendezvous, but the staging is the only thing recognizable here.

Everything else that comes is a surprising masterclass in dramatic film-making and emotional unwrapping.

Cage is absolutely fantastic in a truly raw and unforgettable performance, while the movie itself is fully captivating, dark, and brilliant.

Pig is not the most action-packed or entertaining Nic Cage movie. But it’s got the purest heart and also happens to be home to Cage’s top acting performance of his career.

More Nic Cage Movies You Need to See

  • Lord of War (2005)
  • Bringing Out the Dead (1999)
  • The Weather Man (2005)
  • Gone in 60 Seconds (2000)

There are so many good Nicolas Cage movies out there. Some are so bad that they’re good, and some are good on accident.

Cage isn’t for everyone, and he’s often been miscast. That said, he’s no stranger to blockbuster success, and there is absolutely a good Nicolas Cage movie out there for everyone.

Some of the top Nicolas Cage movies making my list don’t even have the best ratings, so it’s really about what you’re in the mood for.

However, if you like Cage in anything – and haven’t seen some of the flicks I detailed above – my breakdown of the top Nicolas Cage movies should point you in the right direction.

Want more great movie lists from some iconic actors? Here’s a few to check out.

Greg Anderson


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