Twelve Weird, Wild and Wonderful Nicolas Cage Double Features to Stream
One actor, 24 films and so many facial expressions — this is the movie marathon you didn’t know you needed.
September 17, 2021
If you haven't watched Nicolas Cage pour a bottle of vodka over himself while growling with sorrow and menace, have you truly lived? If you haven't seen him milk an alpaca, get creepy about eating peaches or lend his voice to a black-and-white film noir-style Spider-Man (yes, really), then you probably should ask yourself the same thing. And if you haven't witnessed him chase a terrible CGI white jaguar around a hijacked ship, fight space ninjas or battle demonic animatronics, well, you know you now want to after reading that sentence.
That's the thing about Cage — sometimes his films are fantastic, sometimes they're terrible, but he's always compellingly, intoxicatingly watchable. He's the type of actor that no one wants to stop watching and, for better and for worse, his mighty prolific career just keeps delivering more and more movies.
Currently got a Cage-sized itch that desperately needs scratching? There's plenty to watch from his 100-plus on-screen credits. That's a lot of flicks to choose from, so we've picked out 24 of his weirdest, wildest and most wonderful films, paired them up in double features, and basically planned out your next 12 nights of movie-watching. Consider this the viewing marathon you didn't know you needed — whether you're in lockdown or just because.
MANDY AND COLOR OUT OF SPACE
One features Cage as a heartbroken lumberjack wreaking havoc with a chainsaw while chasing down demonic bikers. The other initially puts him in kooky dad mode, until a strange meteor unleashes mayhem and monsters — and Cage's unhinged best, of course — on a rural property. If these descriptions didn't already make it obvious, when it comes to excellent recent Cage flicks that pair out-there premises with excellent performances from their leading man, both Mandy and Color Out of Space sit at the top of the pile. They also provide quite the mind trip filled with psychedelic visuals and vivid soundscapes, all thanks to filmmakers Panos Cosmatos (Mandy) and Richard Stanley (Color Out of Space).
CON AIR AND FACE/OFF
If you're a Cage-loving movie buff, then you probably know exactly when cinema reached its peak. Back in June 1997, two films hit the big screen within weeks of each other, delivering a double dose of Cage action, chaos and craziness that people still watch and rewatch today. Yes, Con Air and Face/Off made their way to cinemas in the same month — and yes, that's a whole lotta Cage to soak up in a darkened room in short succession. In Con Air, he plays a former army ranger-turned-paroled convict who's trying to head home when his prison flight is hijacked by fellow criminals. In Face/Off, he's a sociopathic terrorist who switches faces with the FBI agent (John Travolta) on his trail. Unsurprisingly, neither film is subtle.
RAISING ARIZONA AND ADAPTATION
Often, when you're watching a Cage film, laughter is inevitable — even if you're not watching a comedy. So when Cage flexes his comic chops on purpose, the results are usually genuinely spectacular. In the case of Raising Arizona, Cage and the Coen brothers make a perfect pair. Also mighty fine: the movie's premise, following an ex-con and his wife's (Holly Hunter) zany scheme to kidnap a baby (and a quintuplet at that) so that they can start a family. With Adaptation, Cage pairs up with Being John Malkovich's Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman, and they also make quite the team — as you'd expect with Cage playing a version of Kaufman, as well as Kaufman's fictional twin brother.
WILD AT HEART AND MOONSTRUCK
Speaking of Cage and phenomenal director combos, Wild at Heart boasts one of the very best there is. The movie David Lynch made between Twin Peaks' initial run and the series' big screen prequel and sequel Fire Walk With Me, it features one of Cage's greatest performances — because Cage playing one half of a couple on the run (opposite Laura Dern), singing Elvis tunes like he was born to and navigating a Lynchian crime-romance flick is what dreams are made of. The actor also dabbles in affairs of the heart in Moonstruck, this time as an opera-obsessed baker who falls for his brother's (Danny Aiello) fiancee. It's the movie that won Cher a Best Actress Oscar, too, as the object of Cage's affection.
WILLY'S WONDERLAND AND JIU JITSU
Sometimes, we all just want to see Cage fight things. Clearly, that's an easy sell to get film financing, too. Otherwise, there's no justification for either Willy's Wonderland or Jiu Jitsu to exist — because both films' entire concepts revolve around Cafe going fist to fist with improbable adversaries. In Willy's Wonderland, he faces off against possessed animatronic mascots at a family-friendly restaurant. He also put in a silent performance for the ages, with his drifter character grunting and growling rather than speaking. Then, in Jiu Jitsu, he's part of an ancient order of skilled martial artists who have to do combat with vicious aliens every six years. No, we didn't make all of this up — but, in each case, someone else did.
LEAVING LAS VEGAS AND JOE
Never forget that Cage, when he wants to be, is a truly talented actor. His resume can scream otherwise at times, but an exceptional Cage performance is a sight to behold. Exhibit A: his Oscar and Golden Globe-winning work as a suicidal alcoholic in Leaving Las Vegas. Exhibit B: his role as a troubled man who gives a similarly tormented 15-year-old (Tye Sheridan) a job in Joe. Made almost two decades apart, this pair of films show that Cage always has a great performance in him, no matter what else he's been acting in lately. And, while he's often known for his wild and wacky ways — in no small part due to his resume over the past decade or so — he's impressively attuned to telling bleak tales.
Leaving Las Vegas is available to stream via iTunes.
BRINGING OUT THE DEAD AND THE ROCK
Speaking of Cage's absolute best performances, Bringing Out the Dead features a powerhouse effort from its main star. He's directed here by the great Martin Scorsese, so how could it not? As a paramedic who works the graveyard shift, has his own demons, and is wearied by life and the world, this is one of the greatest films on both Cage and Scorsese's resumes. It sits in stark contrast to The Rock, but sometimes a good double is all about contrast — and seeing someone at the height of their powers in two different ways. Working with king-of-the-overblown Michael Bay (the Transformers franchise), Cage tries to break into Alcatraz to diffuse a hostage situation, and he hits every mark he's asked to. He also makes a great double act with Sean Connery.
Bringing Out the Dead is available to stream via Disney+.
MOM AND DAD AND MATCHSTICK MEN
In Mom and Dad, Cage is no one's ideal father. Along with Selma Blair as his wife, he's trying to kill his kids. So are all the other parents in town, all thanks to a violent and murderous bout of mass hysteria. That means horror-comedy antics aplenty, as well as a whole heap of over-the-top expressions from Cage — the kind that only he can do justice to, of course. He grapples with being a dad and gives his facial muscles a workout in the entertaining Ridley Scott-directed drama Matchstick Men, too, although in a completely different scenario. This time, Cage plays a conman who discovers he has a teenage daughter (Alison Lohman) just as he's about to pull off a big job with his protege (Sam Rockwell).
KICK-ASS AND SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE
Still getting fatherly, Cage isn't just a dad in Kick-Ass — he's a former cop-turned-crime fighter called Big Daddy, and he's training his 11-year-old daughter (Chloe Grace Moretz) to follow in his footsteps. Focusing on their run-in with the eponymous wannabe superhero (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), this caped crusader flick isn't always as funny as it thinks it is, but Cage consistently delivers. And, if you've always fantasised about hearing Cage as Spider-Man, he delivers in the sublime and surreal Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. He's just one of many webslingers in this animated delight (and the best Spider-Man movie out of the lot); however he's a great one: Spider-Man Noir, a black-and-white Spidey from a 1930s universe.
VAMPIRE'S KISS AND GHOST RIDER
If you think you've witnessed Cage at his most manic but you haven't experienced Vampire's Kiss, we have some news for you: you're wrong. Nothing in the actor's filmography compares to this 80s comedy-horror film. We'll say that again: nothing. In terms of out-there Cage performances, this is ground zero. You'd expect that given that Cage plays a literary agent who starts to believe he's a vampire, and begins acting accordingly. After you've watched it, you'll spot shades of Vampire's Kiss in every other Cage film — including in Ghost Rider, where Cage blazes away as the titular bounty hunter of the damned. Adapting a Marvel comic, Ghost Rider isn't great, but like Vampire's Kiss, it's the type of movie that really has to be seen to be believed.
BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL — NEW ORLEANS AND PRIMAL
Let these five words tell you all you need to know about Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call — New Orleans: Nicolas Cage and Werner Herzog. One acts, the other directs, two inimitable titans of their fields combine, and the movie that results — a crime thriller about a corrupt cop — firmly marches to its own beat. It also features a memorable iguana scene, which might've prepared Cage for his role in Primal. There, he plays a big-game hunter stuck chasing a white jaguar around a hijacked ship, all as a deranged murderer also stalks the crew and passengers. One of Cage's most recent movies, it turns out exactly as you expect it does (and with oh-so-much awful CGI).
KNOWING AND DRIVE ANGRY
When it comes to Cage, there's no avoiding the obvious: he has made a whole heap of ridiculous and trashy movies. Lately, they've been going direct to streaming — but, in the late 2000s and early 2010s, these kinds of Cage flicks were still hitting cinemas. The Australian-shot Knowing is one of them. Made in Melbourne, co-starring Rose Byrne, Ben Mendelsohn and Liam Hemsworth before they were Hollywood fixtures, and proving a box office hit, it casts Cage as an astrophysics professor certain he's found a code that predicts the future. Or, there's Drive Angry, where Cage escapes hell with a gun stolen from Satan, all so he can get revenge on the cult leader who killed his daughter.
Published on September 17, 2021 by Sarah Ward