I'll be counting down the Top 10 Cage films that I personally enjoy watching the most. I'll be leaving out loads of good movies of course (Lord Of War), as well as movies I haven't seen in a long time and really need to re-watch (Snake Eyes, 8MM, The Rock) so I might revisit this list eventually. Some films that I actually quite like, I'm thinking Trapped In Paradise, Matchstick Men or Peggy Sue got Married just missed out on the list which includes genuinely good movies and movies which may not be particularly great (or simply so bad they're good) but are worth watching since The Cage is at his most entertaining.
On that note, lets "Cage" that shit up:
DEADFALL/THE WICKER MAN
DRIVE ANGRY/GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE
A couple of guilty pleasures here, both films are not technically that amazing but man are they fun. Drive Angry is absurd, of course, but it's meant to be and it has a ball telling a story which involves Nicolas Cage driving to Hell, having sex during a gunfight and speaking in dull monotones (fancy that!) A LOT. Spirit Of Vengeance takes the Ghost Rider formula and genuinely attempts to make it much better. In a way it does, as the film carries really good visual effects, a LOT more Cagisms, shit-tons more action (not all of it shot like a bad music video this time) and... Christopher Lambert. That said it is a mess and entirely way too long. But if all you're looking for is an entertaining Ghost Rider flick with Nic Cage doing what he does best then you could do a lot worse (the first movie).
THE WEATHER MAN
Here's an underrated one, a Gore Verbinski comedy starring Cage as a loser weather man trying to make the right decisions in his family life and relationships but failing all the way. It's actually a really good, really funny flick with everyone on top form and a penchant towards spontaneous vulgarity which adds a layer of brutal reality to the whole thing making it more than just a run-of-the-mill feel-good indie comedy. It's worth watching if only to listen to Michael Caine attempt an American accent as he plays Nic Cage's dad. Truly one of the great casting decisions of this decade. Who thought Caine could pull off that accent? It's hilarious! Anyway, check out The Weather Man if you haven't already: it looks great, it's cleverer than it seems, it's got its heart in the right place, it's dark, it's funny, it's a good movie.
CON AIR/FACE OFF
Had to put these two together because I enjoy them on a similar level. Both big, dumb action flicks with a lot of slo-mo, a lot of "booms" and a LOT of nonsense. Con Air is a genuinely decent, if crazy-overblown, action film and the joy of it comes mostly from the fact it's super entertaining, loveably dumb, stars a particularly OTT John Malkovitch and Steve Buscemi as the most likeable pedophile you'll ever meet... Ok maybe that was a questionable character approach there but bottom line is: Con Air knows it's silly and decides to just roll with it. The fact Cage takes his character SO seriously throughout only adds to the fun, he's not too out-there performance-wise opting instead for a long-haired, macho monotone which weirdly shouldn't work in Con Air, a film that's almost a parody of itself, but it does. Face/Off, on the other hand, is REALLY dumb and truly believes in its own bullshit. And Cage is at his... Cagiest. Not only that but John Travolta is at his Travoltiest! So you get two overactors for the price of one! In a preposterous sci-fi cop action flick! By Jon Woo! That movie is pure nonsense but Cage is glorious and it's just completely enjoyable no matter how silly it gets. Good stuff all around.
BRINGING OUT THE DEAD/LEAVING LAS VEGAS
I know, I keep cheating by putting two movies together, I promise I'll stop. Both of these movies I tied because they're both pretty darn gloomy. Bringing Out The Dead is a dark, VERY dark comedy from director Martin Scorsese (back when every film of his was still a work of genius) which follows Cage and John Goodman as they spend one night going around in an ambulance saving people and/or bringing them back to a ridiculously busy hospital. It is a unique, underrated masterpiece but by no means an easy watch. These guys are not having a good night to say the least. Leaving Las Vegas sees Cage playing an alcoholic going to Vegas to drink himself to death. It's a good, bittersweet movie and I like it but I almost left it out because of those darn fake-documentary Elisabeth Shue scenes which are just grating every time. It is a good movie and well worth checking out, though. Both are highly recommended.
Vampire's Kiss is absurd. And I mean this in the best possible way. Seemingly just a run-of-the-mill vampire comedy, this is actually a dark, mean-spirited, maniacal oddity with a vampire motif, sure, but very little to do with actual vampires. Cage plays this obnoxious boss who starts picking on one of his employees in increasingly nutty (and disturbing) ways. Oh, and he also believes he might be turning into a vampire after a dodgy night with some sexy vamp. Or he could just be taking too many drugs. Or he could just be going absolutely insane. Who knows? Who cares?! It's Nic Cage at his Cagiest! And trust me when I say that the man's wacky performance alone is worth it. If you find this little gem, don't hesitate: give it a watch. Don't expect it to make sense, just sit back and enjoy the ride. Another must for Cage fans.
WILD AT HEART
What do you get when you cross David Lynch, The Wizard Of Oz, Elvis and Nicolas Cage? You get... Wild At Heart. One of Lynch's most accessible films is nonetheless still one weird-ass road trip. Oh sure you don't get giant alien tadpole babies or last minute character criss-cross switcheroos but the very idea of Cage going around pretending to be Elvis Presley while strutting his way through a particularly dark and twisted version of Oz is enough to cause one or two eyebrow raises. Not only that but this is a rock n' roll road movie that makes True Romance look like an old Mickey Mouse short. You get some pretty brutal, sudden violence throughout, a lot of sex, drugs and surrealism with a side-tale involving Crispin Glover putting cockroaches in his underwear and loads more goodies. Cage is in his element here and has a ball form start to finish, he even gets to belt out Love Me Tender. What more could you ask for? A true cult classic.
BAD LIEUTENANT - PORT OF CALL: NEW ORLEANS
The pairing of Werner Herzog and Nic Cage, much like Lynch, really could not have backfired. A match made in heaven, Herzog's weirdo crooked cop movie coupled with a particularly on-form Cage helped create something unlike any other thriller out there. And getting something out of such an overused formula is by no means an easy feat. There's a terrific cast to support Cage which includes Val Kilmer, Brad Dourif and a, for once, not terrible Eva Mendes! Go figure. The Ghost Rider duo, reunited in a decent flick. What has the world come to? The film itself is a strange mix of Herzogian off-beat surrealism, a degenerating Cage character on a spiralling descent into madness (much like Vampire's Kiss) and 70's-style cop movie cliches. Like it or not, Bad Lieutenant is a must-watch and manages to not only be random and wacky as hell but also well made, tense and almost hypnotic. I love it... I just love it.
I think it's pretty clear by now that Charlie Kaufman should just be writing every single movie out there. How the man even came up with this weird work of genius is a mystery and his creation makes it very difficult for the likes of me to even attempt writing anything! The man made a book about flowers into something beautifully surreal, ridiculously smart and completely unique. I might as well just stop buying pens altogether... Writing himself ironically into the film, Kaufman is played by a fat, balding, curly-haired, miserable Nic Cage (always right at home playing put-upon losers, of course) and he even writes himself a twin brother, again played by Cage, this time a bit more obnoxious but weirdly loveable. The film is a cult masterpiece which stars Meryl Streep and an Oscar-winning Chris Cooper and sees Kaufman attempting to adapt a book about flowers, struggling, then contemplating writing something else entirely. We're basically stuck in between the book that's being adapted, what really happened, what's going on inside Kaufman's mind and Donald's (the Kaufman twin) goofy (yet marketable) ideas. It should be a mess but somehow it all fits in perfectly. It's a film you won't forget in a hurry and boasts quite probably Nicolas Cage's most honestly accomplished performance(s). Brilliant.
What? No City Of Angels?
That's right :)