Paramount Pictures courtesy Everett Collection

(Photo by Paramount Pictures courtesy Everett Collection)

Nicolas Cage Movies, Ranked by Tomatometer

There’s a lot to be said for consistency, and for film fans, the ability to count on reliably great performances from an actor can be the difference between pre-ordering tickets weeks in advance or waiting until a movie comes out on home video. On the other hand, there’s also an undeniable excitement that comes with unpredictability, and Nicolas Cage‘s filmography is a perfect case in point. From toking up with Sean Penn’s Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High to waging chainsaw vengeance against the cultists that murdered his wife in Mandy — and beyond — Cage has racked up more than 100 film credits over the last several decades, delivering performances that range from Oscar-winning (Leaving Las Vegas) to wildly over the top (Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans) and starring in blockbuster fare (The Rock, National Treasure) as well as acclaimed indies (Raising Arizona, Joe), and we wouldn’t want him any other way.

Most recently, he’s gotten career-best accolades for the drama Pig. Nobody captures the camera’s attention quite like Nicolas Cage, and to honor all those years of singularly entertaining achievement, we’ve rounded up all of his major film roles, sorted by Tomatometer. Read on to see where your favorites rank, and remember: Not the bees!

#88

Deadfall (1993)
0%

#88
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A New Yorker (Michael Biehn) heads to California to find the look-alike brother (James Coburn) of his con-man father.... [More]
Directed By: Christopher Coppola

#87

Grand Isle (2019)
0%

#87
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Walter and his neglected wife lure a young stranger into their Victorian home to escape from a hurricane. When the... [More]
Directed By: Stephen S. Campanelli

#86

Left Behind (2014)
1%

#86
Adjusted Score: 3289%
Critics Consensus: Yea verily, like unto a plague of locusts, Left Behind hath begat a further scourge of devastation upon Nicolas Cage's once-proud filmography.
Synopsis: The entire planet is thrown into mayhem when millions of people disappear without a trace -- all that remains are... [More]
Directed By: Vic Armstrong

#85

Arsenal (2017)
3%

#85
Adjusted Score: 4356%
Critics Consensus: Aside from an opportunity to watch a mustachioed Nicolas Cage acting from under a wig and behind a prosthetic nose, Arsenal has depressingly little to offer.
Synopsis: The Lindel brothers, Mikey and JP, only had each other to rely on growing up. As adults, JP finds success... [More]
Directed By: Steven C. Miller

#84

Outcast (2014)
4%

#84
Adjusted Score: 4030%
Critics Consensus: Unforgivably dull, Outcast fails to deliver virtually all of the goofy fun that should come from a movie starring Nicolas Cage and Hayden Christensen in ancient China.
Synopsis: A fugitive Chinese prince and his sister enlist the aid of two war-weary Crusaders (Nicolas Cage, Hayden Christensen) to help... [More]
Directed By: Nick Powell

#83

211 (2018)
4%

#83
Adjusted Score: 4606%
Critics Consensus: 211's disjointed assortment of action clichés and uninspired set pieces adds up to roughly zero.
Synopsis: Officer Mike Chandler and a young civilian passenger find themselves unprepared and outgunned when fate puts them squarely in-the-crosshairs of... [More]
Directed By: York Shackleton

#82
#82
Adjusted Score: 5506%
Critics Consensus: Loaded with talent but borderline unwatchable, Trapped in Paradise will leave viewers feeling the first part of the title and pining for the last.
Synopsis: Fresh out of prison, Alvin (Dana Carvey) and Dave Firpo (Jon Lovitz) pull their brother Bill (Nicolas Cage) back into... [More]
Directed By: George Gallo

#81
#81
Adjusted Score: 10640%
Critics Consensus: With murky cinematography, a meandering pace, a dull storyline, and rather wooden performances, The Pang Brothers' Hollywood remake of Bangkok Dangerous is unsuccessful.
Synopsis: Remorseless assassin Joe (Nicolas Cage) is in Thailand to complete a series of contract killings for a crime boss called... [More]
Directed By: Oxide Pang, Danny Pang

#80

Fire Birds (1990)
10%

#80
Adjusted Score: 9828%
Critics Consensus: Despite the talent on board, Fire Birds is little more than a subpar military adventure sporting video game-like action, outdated philosophy, and uneven acting.
Synopsis: Army lovers (Nicolas Cage, Sean Young) and their task-force leader (Tommy Lee Jones) join the drug war in Apache assault... [More]
Directed By: David Green

#79

Pay the Ghost (2015)
10%

#79
Adjusted Score: 9389%
Critics Consensus: Pay the Ghost takes a weak stab at supernatural horror, but ultimately, it's only viewers who will pay for watching this sloppily assembled picture.
Synopsis: Haunted by eerie images and unexplainable messages, a man (Nicolas Cage) tries to unravel the mystery behind the disappearance of... [More]
Directed By: Uli Edel

#78
#78
Adjusted Score: 10658%
Critics Consensus: Dying of the Light envelops the spark of several intriguing talents, leaving audiences lost in a yawning void of uninspired filmmaking.
Synopsis: Forced into retirement and terminally ill, a CIA agent (Nicolas Cage) gets word that his longtime nemesis (Alexander Karim) has... [More]
Directed By: Paul Schrader

#77

Trespass (2011)
11%

#77
Adjusted Score: 12274%
Critics Consensus: Another claustrophobic thriller that Joel Schumacher can churn out in his sleep, Trespass is nasty and aggressive, more unpleasant than entertaining.
Synopsis: Fast-talking diamond dealer Kyle Miller (Nicolas Cage) and his wife, Sarah (Nicole Kidman), live the good life in a beautiful... [More]
Directed By: Joel Schumacher

#76
#76
Adjusted Score: 15385%
Critics Consensus: Slow, cheap-looking, and dull, Season of the Witch fails even as unintentional comedy.
Synopsis: His faith broken by many years fighting in the Crusades, a knight named Behman (Nicolas Cage) returns to Europe and... [More]
Directed By: Dominic Sena

#75

Tokarev (2014)
12%

#75
Adjusted Score: 11974%
Critics Consensus: Depressingly dull and all-around poorly made, Rage is the rare Nicolas Cage action thriller lacking enough energy to reach "so bad it's good" territory.
Synopsis: Following the kidnapping and murder of his daughter (Aubrey Peeples), a reformed criminal (Nicolas Cage) returns to his old ways... [More]
Directed By: Paco Cabezas

#74
Adjusted Score: 3771%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In this animated retelling of Charles Dickens' classic tale, Ebeneezer Scrooge (Simon Callow) remains the same old curmudgeonly hermit. As... [More]
Directed By: Jimmy T. Murakami

#73
#73
Adjusted Score: 15313%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Diagnosed with a fatal condition, a mob enforcer leaves prison after 19 years and plots a bloody course of revenge... [More]
Directed By: Shawn Ku

#72

The Wicker Man (2006)
15%

#72
Adjusted Score: 18145%
Critics Consensus: Puzzlingly misguided, Neil LaBute's update The Wicker Man struggles against unintentional comedy and fails.
Synopsis: A reclusive lawman (Nicolas Cage) travels to a secluded island to search for a girl who has gone missing. Once... [More]
Directed By: Neil LaBute

#71
Adjusted Score: 15088%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: After their ship is torpedoed by a Japanese submarine, the crew members of the USS Indianapolis face a harrowing nightmare... [More]
Directed By: Mario Van Peebles

#70

Amos & Andrew (1993)
17%

#70
Adjusted Score: 17326%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: When erudite black playwright Andrew Sterling (Samuel L. Jackson) moves to a predominantly white suburb, the buffoonish local police surround... [More]
Directed By: E. Max Frye

#69
Adjusted Score: 21365%
Critics Consensus: With a weak script, uneven CG work, and a Nic Cage performance so predictably loony it's no longer amusing, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance aims to be trashy fun but ends up as plain trash.
Synopsis: Now hiding out in Eastern Europe, Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage) is still struggling with the curse of the Ghost Rider... [More]

#68

Stolen (2012)
20%

#68
Adjusted Score: 18808%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A former thief (Nicolas Cage) has just 12 hours to come up with $10 million after his former partner (Josh... [More]
Directed By: Simon West

#67

Looking Glass (2018)
21%

#67
Adjusted Score: 20542%
Critics Consensus: Looking Glass gives Nicolas Cage a chance to turn in an atypically understated performance, but this is still a suspense thriller with a fatal dearth of suspense or thrills.
Synopsis: Ray must race to save his wife and himself from a gruesome secret connected to a desert hotel and the... [More]
Directed By: Tim Hunter

#66

Sonny (2002)
22%

#66
Adjusted Score: 22020%
Critics Consensus: Sonny is sunk by debuting director Nicolas Cage's evident inability to locate the heart of his movie's story - or properly modulate his cast's performances.
Synopsis: After a stint in the army, former male prostitute Sonny Phillips (James Franco) returns to his home in a run-down... [More]
Directed By: Nicolas Cage

#65

G-Force (2009)
22%

#65
Adjusted Score: 26778%
Critics Consensus: G-Force features manic action, but fails to come up with interesting characters or an inspired plot.
Synopsis: Armed with the latest high-tech spy gear, a guinea pig named Darwin (Sam Rockwell) and his team of specially trained... [More]
Directed By: Hoyt H. Yeatman Jr.

#64

8MM (1999)
23%

#64
Adjusted Score: 25342%
Critics Consensus: Its sadistic violence is unappealing and is lacking in suspense and mystery.
Synopsis: Private detective Tom Welles (Nicolas Cage) lives a normal life with his wife (Catherine Keener) and young daughter, until he... [More]
Directed By: Joel Schumacher

#63
#63
Adjusted Score: 24641%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A tenacious federal agent traces the supply line of a group of cagey and experienced cocaine dealers.... [More]
Directed By: Jason Cabell

#62

The Runner (2015)
24%

#62
Adjusted Score: 23703%
Critics Consensus: In spite of a promising premise and a roundly talented cast, The Runner is a disappointing outing to be viewed by only the staunchest of Nicolas Cage completists.
Synopsis: An embarrassing video threatens the career of an idealistic Louisiana congressman (Nicolas Cage) who dreams of running for the Senate.... [More]
Directed By: Austin Stark

#61
#61
Adjusted Score: 12850%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In the near future, global warming turns parts of the American Midwest into a desert. In its attempt to take... [More]
Directed By: Rob King

#60

Army of One (2016)
25%

#60
Adjusted Score: 19950%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Gary Faulkner (Nicolas Cage), an ex-con, unemployed handyman, and modern day Don Quixote receives a vision from God telling him... [More]
Directed By: Larry Charles

#59
#59
Adjusted Score: 30115%
Critics Consensus: Even though Oscar-bearers Nicolas Cage, Angelina Jolie, and Robert Duval came aboard for this project, the quality of Gone in 60 Seconds is disappointingly low. The plot line is nonsensical, and even the promised car-chase scenes are boring.
Synopsis: Randall "Memphis" Raines long ago abandoned his life of crime, but after an ominous visit from an old friend, he... [More]
Directed By: Dominic Sena

#58

Ghost Rider (2007)
26%

#58
Adjusted Score: 31751%
Critics Consensus: Ghost Rider is a sour mix of morose, glum histrionics amidst jokey puns and hammy dialogue.
Synopsis: Years ago, motorcycle stuntman Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage) sold his soul to save the life of a loved one. Now,... [More]
Directed By: Mark Steven Johnson

#57

Justice (2011)
28%

#57
Adjusted Score: 29717%
Critics Consensus: Seeking Justice is nothing more than a typical potboiler with another phoned-in performance by Nicolas Cage.
Synopsis: A stranger (Guy Pearce) approaches a high-school teacher (Nicolas Cage) and offers to punish his wife's (January Jones) attacker.... [More]
Directed By: Roger Donaldson

#56
Adjusted Score: 31336%
Critics Consensus: The cinematography is gorgeous, but the movie plays it fast and loose with history and the novel it was adapted from. Mostly, the movie fails because the romance between the leads strains credulity and the story is largely uninvolving.
Synopsis: An epic tale about the enduring hope of love and the devastating brutality of war, set amid the Italian occupation... [More]
Directed By: John Madden

#55

Next (2007)
28%

#55
Adjusted Score: 33268%
Critics Consensus: Numerous plot holes and poorly motivated characters prevent Next from being the thought-provoking sci-fi flick it could've been.
Synopsis: Blessed, or cursed, with the ability to see events minutes before they occur, Cris Johnson (Nicolas Cage) earns a living... [More]
Directed By: Lee Tamahori

#54

Inconceivable (2017)
31%

#54
Adjusted Score: 30022%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Angela develops a friendship with a mysterious woman named Katie and offers her a job as a live-in nanny. The... [More]
Directed By: Jonathan Baker

#53

Zandalee (1991)
33%

#53
Adjusted Score: 17740%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: An artist (Nicolas Cage) drifts to New Orleans and explores the theme of lust with his poet buddy's (Judge Reinhold)... [More]
Directed By: Sam Pillsbury

#52

Windtalkers (2002)
33%

#52
Adjusted Score: 37332%
Critics Consensus: The action sequences are expertly staged. Windtalkers, however, sinks under too many clichés and only superficially touches upon the story of the code talkers.
Synopsis: Marine Joe Enders (Nicolas Cage) is assigned to protect Ben Yahzee (Adam Beach) -- a Navajo code talker, the Marines'... [More]
Directed By: John Woo

#51

Knowing (2009)
34%

#51
Adjusted Score: 40361%
Critics Consensus: Knowing has some interesting ideas and a couple good scenes, but it's weighted down by its absurd plot and over-seriousness.
Synopsis: Fifty years after it was buried in a time capsule, a schoolgirl's cryptic document falls into the hands of Caleb... [More]
Directed By: Alex Proyas

#50
Adjusted Score: 41221%
Critics Consensus: A talented cast goes to waste in the improbable National Treasure: Book of Secrets, which is eerily similar to the first film.
Synopsis: When a long-missing page from the diary of assassin John Wilkes Booth suddenly resurfaces, it implicates the great-great grandfather of... [More]
Directed By: Jon Turteltaub

#49

Primal (2019)
37%

#49
Adjusted Score: 38020%
Critics Consensus: Chiefly of interest to Nicolas Cage completists and hardcore B-movie fans, this action thriller suffers from an unfortunate lack of Primal energy.
Synopsis: Hunter and collector Frank Walsh expects a big payday after bagging a priceless white jaguar for a zoo. But the... [More]
Directed By: Nicholas Powell

#48
#48
Adjusted Score: 46396%
Critics Consensus: It has a likable cast and loads of CGI spectacle, but for all but the least demanding viewers, The Sorcerer's Apprentice will be less than spellbinding.
Synopsis: Dave Stutler (Jay Baruchel) is just an average guy, but the wizard Balthazar Blake (Nicolas Cage) sees in him a... [More]
Directed By: Jon Turteltaub

#47

Snake Eyes (1998)
41%

#47
Adjusted Score: 43266%
Critics Consensus: Snake Eyes has a number of ingredients that promise a trashy fun time; unfortunately, they're lost in an energetic and stylish thriller with a frustratingly hollow core.
Synopsis: Detective Rick Santoro (Nicolas Cage) has never played by the rules. When he attends a high-profile boxing match with his... [More]
Directed By: Brian De Palma

#46
#46
Adjusted Score: 51400%
Critics Consensus: National Treasure is no treasure, but it's a fun ride for those who can forgive its highly improbable plot.
Synopsis: Historian and code-breaker Ben Gates (Nicolas Cage) has been searching his whole life for a rumored treasure dating back to... [More]
Directed By: Jon Turteltaub

#45

Drive Angry (2011)
48%

#45
Adjusted Score: 51342%
Critics Consensus: It may deliver the over-the-top action pieces, but Drive Angry prefers to work safely within grindhouse formula than do something truly unique.
Synopsis: Thrown into hell for his crimes, brutal felon John Milton (Nicolas Cage) escapes from the fiery pit after cultists murder... [More]
Directed By: Patrick Lussier

#44

Dog Eat Dog (2016)
49%

#44
Adjusted Score: 52722%
Critics Consensus: Dog Eat Dog's refreshing bundle of quirks and surfeit of visual style aren't quite enough to compensate for an aimlessly forgettable story.
Synopsis: Ex-cons, Troy (Nicolas Cage), Mad Dog (Willem Dafoe) and Diesel (Christopher Matthew Cook), are hired by an eccentric mob boss... [More]
Directed By: Paul Schrader

#43

Astro Boy (2009)
50%

#43
Adjusted Score: 55324%
Critics Consensus: While it isn't terribly original, and it seems to have a political agenda that may rankle some viewers, Astro Boy boasts enough visual thrills to please its target demographic.
Synopsis: In futuristic Metro City, a brilliant scientist named Tenma builds Astro Boy (Freddie Highmore), a robotic child with superstrength, X-ray... [More]
Directed By: David Bowers

#42

The Family Man (2000)
53%

#42
Adjusted Score: 57751%
Critics Consensus: Despite good performances by Cage and especially by Leoni, The Family Man is too predictable and derivative to add anything new to the Christmas genre. Also, it sinks under its sentimentality.
Synopsis: Jack's lavish, fast-paced lifestyle changes one Christmas night when he stumbles into a grocery store holdup and disarms the gunman.... [More]
Directed By: Brett Ratner

#41

Con Air (1997)
56%

#41
Adjusted Score: 59935%
Critics Consensus: Con Air won't win any awards for believability - and all involved seem cheerfully aware of it, making some of this blockbuster action outing's biggest flaws fairly easy to forgive.
Synopsis: Just-paroled army ranger Cameron Poe (Nicolas Cage) is headed back to his wife (Monica Potter), but must fly home aboard... [More]
Directed By: Simon West

#40

Guarding Tess (1994)
57%

#40
Adjusted Score: 58769%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Doug Chesnic (Nicolas Cage), an agent with the Secret Service Uniformed Division, is assigned to protect former first lady Tess... [More]
Directed By: Hugh Wilson

#39

City of Angels (1998)
59%

#39
Adjusted Score: 61945%
Critics Consensus: City of Angels may not tug the heartstrings as effortlessly as it aims to, but the end results will still leave more than a few viewers in tears.
Synopsis: This is the story of Seth (Nicolas Cage), an angel who wanders the Los Angeles area invisible to humans. As... [More]
Directed By: Brad Silberling

#38

The Weather Man (2005)
59%

#38
Adjusted Score: 63076%
Critics Consensus: With fine performances and a dark, dry sense of humor, The Weather Man is mostly cloudy with occasional rays of sunshine.
Synopsis: David Spritz (Nicolas Cage) is a Chicago weatherman who, despite success at his job, is deeply unhappy. Eclipsed by his... [More]
Directed By: Gore Verbinski

#37
#37
Adjusted Score: 57084%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In their last weeks before deployment to World War II as Marines, teenage friends Henry Nash (Sean Penn) and Nicky... [More]
Directed By: Richard Benjamin

#36

Vampire's Kiss (1989)
61%

#36
Adjusted Score: 61231%
Critics Consensus: He's a vampire! He's a vampire! He's a vampire!
Synopsis: The life of white-collar New Yorker Peter (Nicolas Cage) seems to revolve solely around making as much money and sleeping... [More]
Directed By: Robert Bierman

#35
#35
Adjusted Score: 62552%
Critics Consensus: Though this by-the-numbers true procedural seems basic, The Frozen Ground presents a welcome return for Nicolas Cage in a solid performance.
Synopsis: A teenage escapee (Vanessa Hudgens) provides a critical break in the case, as an Alaskan detective (Nicolas Cage) hunts a... [More]
Directed By: Scott Walker

#34
#34
Adjusted Score: 65023%
Critics Consensus: Willy's Wonderland isn't quite as much fun as its premise would suggest -- but it's still got Nicolas Cage beating the hell out of bloodthirsty animatronics, which is nice.
Synopsis: A quiet loner (Nicolas Cage) finds himself stranded in a remote town when his car breaks down. Unable to pay... [More]
Directed By: Kevin Lewis

#33

Lord of War (2005)
61%

#33
Adjusted Score: 66567%
Critics Consensus: While Lord of War is an intelligent examination of the gun trade, it is too scattershot in its plotting to connect.
Synopsis: The 20-year arms dealing career of Queens, N.Y., outcast Yuri Orlov (Nicolas Cage) serves as a window onto the end... [More]
Directed By: Andrew Niccol

#32

Snowden (2016)
61%

#32
Adjusted Score: 76348%
Critics Consensus: Snowden boasts a thrilling fact-based tale and a solid lead performance from Joseph Gordon-Levitt, even if director Oliver Stone saps the story of some of its impact by playing it safe.
Synopsis: Disillusioned with the intelligence community, top contractor Edward Snowden (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) leaves his job at the National Security Agency. He... [More]
Directed By: Oliver Stone

#31

The Ant Bully (2006)
62%

#31
Adjusted Score: 65621%
Critics Consensus: Sometimes inventive and witty, this animated adventure into an ant-sized world is a pleasant diversion.
Synopsis: Tired of weathering constant attacks on their colony, ants shrink a destructive boy, named Lucas (Zach Tyler Eisen), to their... [More]
Directed By: John A. Davis

#30

The Trust (2016)
63%

#30
Adjusted Score: 65060%
Critics Consensus: The Trust may not be an all-time heist classic, but its solidly workmanlike plot -- and the chemistry between Nicolas Cage and Elijah Wood -- should satisfy genre enthusiasts.
Synopsis: Corrupt cops working in the police department evidence room make plans to rob a vault full of drug money in... [More]

#29
#29
Adjusted Score: 65202%
Critics Consensus: Honeymoon in Vegas is a light screwball comedy that has just about what you expect (and nothing you don't).
Synopsis: After losing $65,000 to professional gambler and con man Tommy Korman (James Caan), penniless private investigator Jack Singer (Nicolas Cage)... [More]
Directed By: Andrew Bergman

#28

Wild at Heart (1990)
67%

#28
Adjusted Score: 70522%
Critics Consensus: One of director David Lynch's more uneven efforts, Wild at Heart is held together by his distinctive sensibilities and compelling work from Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern.
Synopsis: After serving prison time for a self-defense killing, Sailor Ripley (Nicolas Cage) reunites with girlfriend Lula Fortune (Laura Dern). Lula's... [More]
Directed By: David Lynch

#27
#27
Adjusted Score: 76147%
Critics Consensus: As a visually stunning tribute to lives lost in tragedy, World Trade Center succeeds unequivocally, and it is more politically muted than many of Stone's other works.
Synopsis: Two Port Authority officers, Sgt. John McLoughlin (Nicolas Cage) and Officer Will Jimeno (Michael Peña), become trapped in the rubble... [More]
Directed By: Oliver Stone

#26

Kiss of Death (1995)
67%

#26
Adjusted Score: 68030%
Critics Consensus: An outstanding ensemble cast propels Kiss of Death, a noir-ish crime thriller that's slick and big on atmosphere, even if its script may only provide sporadic bursts of tension.
Synopsis: After his time in prison, Jimmy Kilmartin (David Caruso) keeps his head down and provides for his wife and kids,... [More]
Directed By: Barbet Schroeder

#25

The Rock (1996)
68%

#25
Adjusted Score: 71940%
Critics Consensus: For visceral thrills, it can't be beat. Just don't expect The Rock to engage your brain.
Synopsis: FBI chemical warfare expert Stanley Goodspeed (Nicolas Cage) is sent on an urgent mission with a former British spy, John... [More]
Directed By: Michael Bay

#24
#24
Adjusted Score: 71695%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Charlie Lang (Nicolas Cage) is a simple, kindhearted New York City cop. When he realizes he has no money to... [More]
Directed By: Andrew Bergman

#23
#23
Adjusted Score: 75656%
Critics Consensus: Stunning and compelling, Scorsese and Cage succeed at satisfying the audience.
Synopsis: After a disheartening and haunting career wears him down, New York City paramedic Frank Pierce (Nicolas Cage) begins to collapse... [More]
Directed By: Martin Scorsese

#22

The Croods (2013)
72%

#22
Adjusted Score: 76448%
Critics Consensus: While it may not be as (ahem) evolved as the best modern animated fare, The Croods will prove solidly entertaining for families seeking a fast-paced, funny cartoon adventure.
Synopsis: Prehistoric family the Croods live in a particularly dangerous moment in time. Patriarch Grug (Nicolas Cage), his mate, Ugga (Catherine... [More]

#21

Rumble Fish (1983)
74%

#21
Adjusted Score: 76664%
Critics Consensus: Rumble Fish frustrates even as it intrigues, but director Francis Ford Coppola's strong visual style helps compensate for a certain narrative stasis.
Synopsis: Disaffected and restless, Rusty James (Matt Dillon) is spoiling for a fight. Abandoned by his mother and living with his... [More]
Directed By: Francis Ford Coppola

#20

Mom and Dad (2017)
75%

#20
Adjusted Score: 82866%
Critics Consensus: Mom and Dad's gonzo premise serves as an effective springboard for a wickedly dark, bloody comedy - and an appropriately over-the-top performance from Nicolas Cage.
Synopsis: A teenage girl and her little brother try to survive a wild 24 hours during which a mass hysteria of... [More]
Directed By: Brian Taylor

#19

Kick-Ass (2010)
76%

#19
Adjusted Score: 86391%
Critics Consensus: Not for the faint of heart, Kick-Ass takes the comic adaptation genre to new levels of visual style, bloody violence, and gleeful profanity.
Synopsis: Using his love for comics as inspiration, teenager Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) decides to reinvent himself as a superhero --... [More]
Directed By: Matthew Vaughn

#18

The Cotton Club (1984)
77%

#18
Adjusted Score: 77853%
Critics Consensus: Energetic and brimming with memorable performers, The Cotton Club entertains with its visual and musical pizazz even as its plot only garners polite applause.
Synopsis: The lives of various characters intersect at Harlem's renowned Cotton Club. Handsome horn player Dix Dwyer (Richard Gere) falls for... [More]
Directed By: Francis Ford Coppola

#17
Adjusted Score: 82581%
Critics Consensus: While Fast Times at Ridgemont High features Sean Penn's legendary performance, the film endures because it accurately captured the small details of school, work, and teenage life.
Synopsis: Stacy Hamilton (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is a pretty, but inexperienced, teen interested in dating. Given advice by her uninhibited friend,... [More]
Directed By: Amy Heckerling

#16

Matchstick Men (2003)
82%

#16
Adjusted Score: 87343%
Critics Consensus: Breezy and well-acted, Matchstick Men focuses more on the characters than on the con.
Synopsis: Roy (Nicolas Cage), a depressed con artist with obsessive-compulsive disorder, and Frank (Sam Rockwell), his partner, find their line of... [More]
Directed By: Ridley Scott

#15

Birdy (1984)
83%

#15
Adjusted Score: 83758%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Birdy (Matthew Modine) returns from the Vietnam War scarred from the horrific experiences of battle. He is so damaged by... [More]
Directed By: Alan Parker

#14

Valley Girl (1983)
83%

#14
Adjusted Score: 85177%
Critics Consensus: With engaging performances from its two leads, Valley Girl is a goofy yet amiable film that both subverts and celebrates the cheerful superficiality of teen comedies.
Synopsis: Lovely teen Julie Richman (Deborah Foreman) is steeped in the excessive, pink-clad culture of the San Fernando Valley, complete with... [More]
Directed By: Martha Coolidge

#13
#13
Adjusted Score: 88145%
Critics Consensus: Peggy Sue Got Married may seem just another in a line of '80s boomer nostalgia films, but none of the others have Kathleen Turner keen lead performance.
Synopsis: Peggy Sue Bodell (Kathleen Turner) attends her 25-year high school reunion after separating from her cheating husband, Charlie (Nicolas Cage).... [More]
Directed By: Francis Ford Coppola

#12

Joe (2013)
86%

#12
Adjusted Score: 90344%
Critics Consensus: Rich in atmosphere and anchored by a powerful performance from Nicolas Cage, Joe is a satisfying return to form for its star -- as well as director David Gordon Green.
Synopsis: The rough-hewn boss (Nicolas Cage) of a lumber crew courts trouble when he steps in to protect the youngest member... [More]
Directed By: David Gordon Green

#11
Adjusted Score: 90546%
Critics Consensus: Befitting its unorthodox origins, this Bad Lieutenant benefits from Werner Herzog's typically fearless direction and a delightfully unhinged Nicolas Cage in the title role.
Synopsis: Terence McDonagh (Nicolas Cage) isn't doing so well. He has a nasty painkiller addiction, courtesy of an injury he sustained... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#10
#10
Adjusted Score: 100432%
Critics Consensus: A welcome return for director Richard Stanley, Color Out of Space mixes tart B-movie pulp with visually alluring Lovecraftian horror and a dash of gonzo Nicolas Cage.
Synopsis: After a meteorite lands in the front yard of their farm, Nathan Gardner and his family find themselves battling a... [More]
Directed By: Richard Stanley

#9
#9
Adjusted Score: 93117%
Critics Consensus: Oscar-awarded Nicolas Cage finds humanity in his character as it bleeds away in this no frills, exhilaratingly dark portrait of destruction.
Synopsis: Adapted from the novel by John O'Brien, this acclaimed drama follows alcoholic screenwriter Ben Sanderson (Nicolas Cage) as he drinks... [More]
Directed By: Mike Figgis

#8

Raising Arizona (1987)
91%

#8
Adjusted Score: 95570%
Critics Consensus: A terrifically original, eccentric screwball comedy, Raising Arizona may not be the Coens' most disciplined movie, but it's one of their most purely entertaining.
Synopsis: An ex-con and an ex-cop meet, marry and long for a child of their own. When it is discovered that... [More]
Directed By: Joel Coen

#7
Adjusted Score: 97545%
Critics Consensus: Teen Titans Go! To the Movies distills the enduring appeal of its colorful characters into a charmingly light-hearted adventure whose wacky humor fuels its infectious fun -- and belies a surprising level of intelligence.
Synopsis: It seems that all the major superheroes out there are starring in their own movies -- all but the Teen... [More]

#6

Adaptation (2002)
91%

#6
Adjusted Score: 97000%
Critics Consensus: Dizzyingly original, the loopy, multi-layered Adaptation is both funny and thought-provoking.
Synopsis: Nicolas Cage is Charlie Kaufman, a confused L.A. screenwriter overwhelmed by feelings of inadequacy, sexual frustration, self-loathing, and by the... [More]
Directed By: Spike Jonze

#5

Face/Off (1997)
92%

#5
Adjusted Score: 96505%
Critics Consensus: John Travolta and Nicolas Cage play cat-and-mouse (and literally play each other) against a beautifully stylized backdrop of typically elegant, over-the-top John Woo violence.
Synopsis: Obsessed with bringing terrorist Castor Troy (Nicolas Cage) to justice, FBI agent Sean Archer (John Travolta) tracks down Troy, who... [More]
Directed By: John Woo

#4

Moonstruck (1987)
94%

#4
Adjusted Score: 98242%
Critics Consensus: Led by energetic performances from Nicolas Cage and Cher, Moonstruck is an exuberantly funny tribute to love and one of the decade's most appealing comedies.
Synopsis: No sooner does Italian-American widow Loretta (Cher) accept a marriage proposal from her doltish boyfriend, Johnny (Danny Aiello), than she... [More]
Directed By: Norman Jewison

#3

Red Rock West (1993)
95%

#3
Adjusted Score: 96586%
Critics Consensus: Red Rock West is a hidden neo-noir gem with some delightful cracks in its surface -- and an opportunity to see Lara Flynn Boyle, Nicolas Cage, Dennis Hopper, and J.T. Walsh go toe-to-toe in all their early '90s glory.
Synopsis: When unemployed ex-marine Michael Williams (Nicolas Cage) stumbles into a bar in Red Rock, Wyo., the owner, Wayne (J.T. Walsh),... [More]
Directed By: John Dahl

#2

Pig (2021)
97%

#2
Adjusted Score: 109560%
Critics Consensus: Like the animal itself, Pig defies the hogwash of expectations with a beautiful odyssey of loss and love anchored by Nicolas Cage's affectingly raw performance.
Synopsis: Living alone in the Oregon wilderness, a truffle hunter returns to Portland to find the person who stole his beloved... [More]
Directed By: Michael Sarnoski

#1
Adjusted Score: 121255%
Critics Consensus: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse matches bold storytelling with striking animation for a purely enjoyable adventure with heart, humor, and plenty of superhero action.
Synopsis: Bitten by a radioactive spider in the subway, Brooklyn teenager Miles Morales suddenly develops mysterious powers that transform him into... [More]

The 2010s have not been an easy time for Nicolas Cage, preeminent cultural icon and reigning king of esoteric movie choices. The Academy Award-winning former box office champ has spent much of the decade churning out an endless series of action movies both regrettable and forgettable, most of which go direct to video or receive token theatrical releases. Things seem to be looking up for him as of late, however. He can currently be heard as the voice of Superman in Teen Titans Go! To the Movies , (Certified Fresh at 90%), and this week he appears in the horror thriller Mandy (Certified Fresh at 98%), which has earned near universal praise on the film festival circuit.

In other words, it’s the perfect time to single out a whole slew of Cage cult oddities that may not be as well known as The Wicker Man, Adaptation, Wild at Heart, or Face/Off, but are definitely worth checking out, particularly if you don’t mind films of varying quality.


1. Rumble Fish (1983) 74%

Universal Pictures courtesy Everett Collection

(Photo by Universal Pictures courtesy Everett Collection)

Nicolas Cage was perhaps the only hungry, talented young actor of the day who did not appear in 1983’s The Outsiders, despite being the nephew of the film’s director, Francis Ford Coppola. He scored a nifty consolation prize, however, in the role of Smokey, a distractingly shaggy member of Matt Dillon’s crew, in the film’s companion piece, Rumble Fish, which was shot back-to-back with The Outsiders with the same crew and source material from the same author, young-adult lit goddess S.E. Hinton.

It seems fitting that Cage would end up in the artier and more agreeably demented of the two projects, a film noir-leaning black-and-white movie for teenagers that finds Cage holding his own against a cast that includes heavyweights like Laurence Fishburne, Dennis Hopper, Mickey Rourke at the height of his androgynous beauty and magnetism, and Tom Waits. Rumble Fish proved that even at the very beginning of his career, there was a whole lot more to Cage than just being related to a legendary filmmaker.


2. Vampire's Kiss (1989) 61%

Hemdale Film Corp. courtesy Everett Collection

(Photo by Hemdale Film Corp. courtesy Everett Collection)

When it comes to fusing the belligerent aggression of the archetypal 1980s businessman with pure, monstrous old-school evil of the Dracula/Wolfman variety, Patrick Bateman of American Psycho could learn a thing or two from the lunatic Cage played in 1989’s Vampire’s Kiss.

In this pitch-black horror comedy, a belligerent, narcissistic literary agent played by Cage gets bitten by a mysterious stranger during a one-night stand and becomes convinced he’s a vampire. Vampire’s Kiss soars as a demented ’80s riff on George Romero’s Martin, with the squirmy vulnerability and aching sadness of Martin‘s fake vampire replaced by the deranged narcissism of a dude who was a monster and a threat to everyone around him even before he got bit. It also brought us a couple of the finest Nic Cage freakouts ever and inspired a well-known meme.


3. Zandalee (1991) 33%

Astro Distribution courtesy Everett Collection

(Photo by Astro Distribution courtesy Everett Collection)

As Wild at Heart indelibly illustrated, the young Nicolas Cage could be a scorchingly sexy actor. But he’s the hilarious antithesis of that as a sexual adventurer whose goatee, soul patch, and mustache combo makes him look like he’s perpetually wearing a Guy Fawkes mask in the wonderfully warped, direct-to-video 1991 “erotic” thriller Zandalee.

Cage’s sex maniac shamelessly pursues the titular unsatisfied wife of his impotent best friend Judge Reinhold with rowdy come-ons like, “I wanna shake you naked and eat you alive, Zandalee.” Who could resist a line like that? Yes, Zandalee is perversely unsexy, but it is, scandalously and unintentionally, a laugh riot.


4. Red Rock West (1993) 95%

Roxie Releasing courtesy Everett Collection

(Photo by Roxie Releasing courtesy Everett Collection)

Cage ably plays a film noir archetype — the drifter lured into a world of sin and seduction, murder and greed — opposite J.T Walsh, Dennis Hopper, and femme fatale Lara Flynn Boyle in John Dahl’s terrific, darkly funny 1993 neo-noir Red Rock West. This overachieving little thriller was slated for a direct-to-video/cable burial before a California theater owner helped finagle a richly merited, albeit modest, theatrical release. But Red Rock West wasn’t just worthy of a theatrical release: it was one of the best films of the year it was released, and today it occupies a place of pride in the pantheon of great latter-day film noirs alongside other Dahl triumphs like Kill Me Again and The Last Seduction.


5. Bringing Out the Dead (1999) 72%

N/A

After Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and The Last Temptation of Christ, director Martin Scorsese and screenwriter Paul Schrader continued their exploration of driven, intense protagonists facing down bleak personal personal reckonings with Bringing Out the Dead, their electric adaptation of Joe Connelly’s novel about a depressed paramedic and the death-haunted, surrealistic world he inhabits. Cage’s big, soulful eyes powerfully express his character’s bottomless sadness and aching longing for tenderness and connection in a world gone mad.


6. The Weather Man (2005) 59%

Paramount Pictures courtesy Everett Collection

(Photo by Paramount Pictures courtesy Everett Collection)

Director Gore Verbinski took a break from directing mega-budgeted spectacles like the Pirates of the Caribbean with 2005’s The Weather Man, a deftly handled character study about a vain, narcissistic Chicago weatherman (Cage) with complicated relationships with his father (Michael Caine) and his family. It’s an unexpectedly small-scale, life-sized movie from a director and a star used to splashier, more flamboyant fare. Cage doesn’t play relatively normal men for understandable reasons (he’s insane and over the top, in the best possible sense), but he’s quite good at it, and The Weather Man is a low-key charmer.


7. Grindhouse (2007) 84%

The Weinstein Co.

(Photo by The Weinstein Co.)

Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s 2007 project Grindhouse represented an audacious attempt to recreate the mood, vibe, and stoned, surreal experience of catching a double feature in an impressively disgusting drive-in theater with a gallon of moonshine and a few jazz cigarettes sometime in the 1970s.

To make the evening a full-on experience/freak out, Tarantino’s Death Proof and Rodriguez’s Planet Terror were augmented by fake trailers from simpatico, sleaze-loving souls like like Eli Roth, Edgar Wright, and Rob Zombie, the latter of whom contributed Werewolf Woman of the SS, a hairy, cheeky, supernatural spin on the sex- and violence-saturated Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS. The faux trailer concludes by promising a boffo cast of B-movie favorites like Shari Moon Zombie (no points for guessing who her husband is), Udo Kier, Sybil Danning, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer‘s Tom Towles, Bill Moseley, and, of course, Nicolas Cage as a deranged Dr. Fu Manchu.

Granted, Werewolf Woman of the SS isn’t an actual movie, but Cage is so beloved among trash culture aficionados that his mere appearance in Grindhouse prompted cheers and howls of laughter. It’s tempting to imagine how a feature-length version of the film promised in Zombie’s trailer might look and feel, but it’s doubtful it could have lived up to audience expectations.


8. Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2009) 86%

First Look Pictures courtesy Everett Collection

(Photo by First Look Pictures courtesy Everett Collection)

Some projects become huge cult movies before a single frame is even shot. That’s true of 2009’s Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, whose status as a cult classic was clinched the moment beloved filmmaker Werner Herzog signed on to direct Nicolas Cage in a New Orleans-set reboot/reimagining/riff on Abel Ferrara’s iconic 1992 independent cult classic Bad Lieutenant.

Cage and Herzog amplify each other’s madness in this mind-bending dark comedy about a cackling, coke-snorting, lucky crack pipe-toting madman who is a crime-fighter in dirty, lawless New Orleans, an astonishingly prolific criminal, and an all-around degenerate. Only a lunatic would be audacious enough to follow in the footsteps of Harvey Keitel at his most punishingly intense and fearless. Thankfully, Cage is just such a lunatic, and Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans not only matches the stoned brilliance of Ferrara’s rightly revered original, at times it surpasses it.


9. Knowing (2009) 34%

Summit Entertainment courtesy Everett Collection

(Photo by Summit Entertainment courtesy Everett Collection)

Cage scored a surprise hit with Alex Proyas’ demented 2009 science-fiction mind-blower Knowing. The movie begins as a relatively straightforward conspiracy theory about a widowed professor (Cage) who discovers that a time capsule from 1959 contains numbers relating to a series of future calamities, including September 11th. Knowing gets bolder and more audacious as it goes along, leading to an unforgettable ending that takes the movie’s brazenly loopy premise to its surrealistic extreme in a manner at once biblical and apocalyptic.


10. Kick-Ass (2010) 76%

Daniel Smith/Lionsgate

(Photo by Daniel Smith/Lionsgate)

Chloë Grace Moretz got most of the acclaim and the attention, creepy and otherwise, for her star-making turn as gleefully profane 11-year-old killing machine Hit Girl in Matthew Vaughn’s action comedy, a nasty, misanthropic adaptation of Mark Millar and John Romita Jr’s comic book Kick Ass, about everyday weirdos who decide to become real-world superheroes.

But Cage played just as big a role in the film’s creative success as the appropriately named Big Daddy, a good cop who turns his daughter into a fearsome weapon of vengeance against a mob boss who has framed him. In Kick Ass, Cage’s justice-seeking patriarch is, paradoxically, the moral center and the trembling, beating heart and soul of a fundamentally amoral movie that fatally lacks any heart or soul otherwise.


11. Drive Angry (2011) 48%

Richard Foreman Jr./Summit Entertainment

(Photo by Richard Foreman Jr./Summit Entertainment)

All that needs to be said about Drive Angry (other than, you know, it’s a 3D Nicolas Cage movie called Drive Angry), is that at one point, Cage’s character has sex, swigs whiskey straight from the bottle, and engages in a gunfight – all at the same time! That, friends, is multitasking.

Cage plays a tough guy too badass even for Hell, so he steals the Devil’s own gun and sets out to prevent his granddaughter from from being sacrificed by a Satanic cult. With a premise and a star that nuts you don’t need 3D, but then again, Cage’s aesthetic has always been about crazy excess, so why not bring the lurid B-movie thrills in all three dimensions?


12. Joe (2013) 86%

Linda Kallerua/Roadside Attractions

(Photo by Linda Kallerua/Roadside Attractions)

Thanks in no small part to the films on this list, Nicolas Cage reigns as the king of movies that are so bad they’re good. But every once in a while the stars align perfectly, and the eccentric trash movie icon will find himself in a movie that’s just plain good.

That’s 2014’s Joe, a riveting coming-of-age drama from David Gordon Green that casts Cage in the challenging and juicy title role of a grizzled, troubled, and extremely hairy alcoholic who becomes the unlikely father figure to a young boy played by Tye Sheridan. The film serves as a much needed reminder that, in the right role and the right film, Cage can be a great actor, not just an irresistibly big personality.


13. Left Behind (2014) 1%

Freestyle Releasing

(Photo by Freestyle Releasing)

Cage’s career hit yet another nadir when he was cast as a pilot who learns a little something about the perils of eschewing a Godly path in 2014’s Left Behind, the feature film adaptation of the Rapture-themed series of best-selling conspiracy novels that were previously adapted into a trilogy of motion picture vehicles for Kirk Cameron.

Despite an Oscar winner in a lead role, 2014’s Left Behind is surprisingly much more modest than the Kirk Cameron movie. Instead of a globe-trotting adventure, it’s essentially the film equivalent of what is known in television as a “bottle episode,” which takes place primarily in a self-contained single location. The main action in Left Behind is limited to a wonderfully stagy airplane set where the crew and passengers of a flight slowly but surely piece together the nature of their loved ones’ not-so-mysterious disappearances (spoiler: it’s God), with unintentionally hilarious results.

Left Behind had two core audiences: Christians psyched to see an actor of Cage’s caliber in Godly entertainment, and secular smart-asses excited about an opportunity to laugh at Cage’s expense. Left Behind‘s wonderfully hokey storytelling and over-the-top proselytizing should have satisfed both groups, but, like so many of Cage’s films these days, it flopped, and a planned trilogy was nixed. That means, at least in this instance, Kirk Cameron actually succeeded where Nicolas Cage failed.


14. Mom and Dad (2017) 75%

Momentum Pictures

(Photo by Momentum Pictures)

The pairing of Cage and beloved cult weirdos Mark Neveldine/Brian Taylor (CrankCrank: High Volume) on Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, a sequel about a flaming motorcyclist from Hell, promised a crazy abundance of kitschy thrills and delivered almost nothing.

Cage fared much better when he re-teamed with Taylor alone on the demented 2017 horror comedy Mom and Dad. The film cast Cage and Selma Blair as quintessentially corny parents whose long-buried resentment over sacrificing their own needs and happiness for the sake of their children comes to a raging, psychotic, murderous boil when a meteor inspires otherwise sane mothers and fathers to murder their own children for a 24-hour span. It’s a role perfectly suited for Cage’s late-period combination of cornball dad dorkiness and unrelenting, violent intensity.

Cage was singularly compelling as an angry, crazy young man. He’s similarly magnetic in the bonkers dad roles he’s been playing as of late, and he’s sure to make for a fascinatingly warped granddad, as long as he can find roles deserving of his singular genius and mad-dog charisma. Considering Cage’s inscrutable taste in material, though, there’s no telling what we’ll actually get, and that also feels perfectly appropriate.


Nathan Rabin is a freelance writer, columnist, the first head writer of The A.V. Club and the author of four books, most recently Weird Al: The Book (with “Weird Al” Yankovic) and You Don’t Know Me But You Don’t Like Me.

Follow Nathan on Twitter: @NathanRabin

It’s a genre lover’s feast this week on DVD, but don’t say we didn’t warn you about those pesky rotten Tomatometers. First up? Alex Proyas’s latest science fiction thriller, starring Nicolas Cage in a doomsday scenario (Knowing). Also new is a would-be franchise about super-powered humans on the lam from shady government types (Push, starring Chris Evans and Dakota Fanning). David S. Goyer tries his hand at an original story, resulting in silly, PG-13 horror (The Unborn), while one of our favorite ’90s rappers gives directing a shot (A Day in The Life, filmed entirely in rhyme!). If all else fails, look backward to a handful of older titles getting a shiny new polish (Beau Geste, The Deep on Blu-ray). Dig in!


Knowing

32%



Unless you’re an avowed Alex Proyas fan, his latest science fiction thriller, Knowing, is likely to underwhelm. (But who knows? Roger Ebert, one of the lone critics to champion Proyas’s Dark City, found Knowing to be “frightening, suspenseful, [and] intelligent.”) Most critics agreed that Knowing — about a professor (Nicolas Cage) who discovers that a series of numerical codes have predicted major disasters for decades, with more to come — is simultaneously absurd and overly serious, although its CG-enhanced set pieces are a wonder to behold. Silly or no, those spectacular subway and plane crash scenes will, morbidly, look great on Blu-ray; glean insights from Proyas himself in a commentary track and behind-the-scenes featurettes on the making of the film.

Next: Dakota Fanning, superhero? Push hits DVD


Push

22%



Hearken back to February of this year, and you might remember a little sci-fi actioner called Push, a Hong Kong-set superhero tale of sorts about a ragtag band of super-powered young people (Chris Evans, Dakota Fanning, and Camilla Belle) on the run from a shadowy organization called The Division (led by Djimon Hounsou). After a mild box office performance, Push seems unlikely to spawn its intended film sequels (the last in a set of comic book prequels were published upon release), so look on it as a sort of failed experiment in science fiction franchise-making; where did it go wrong? Director Paul McGuigan‘s (Lucky Number Slevin) hyperkinetic direction? The convoluted plot? The audience’s impatience for the over-tread ground of average Joes discovering super powers and fighting off shady government types? Truth be told, McGuigan gives the material a distinct stylistic flair; listen to his musings on production on a commentary track, joined by stars Evans and Fanning.

Next: David S. Goyer’s original horror concept: The Unborn


The Unborn

12%




As David Goyer warns in his latest film, The Unborn, beware the dybbuk! Wait, you ask, what’s a dybbuk? Well, it’s a demon. A Jewish demon that possesses humans. Like, to gain access in to the human world. So, yeah, The Unborn is about a Jewish demon. Goyer, best known for adapting beloved comic book properties into major motion pictures (The Crow: City of Angels, Blade, Batman Begins) hit upon the concept for The Unborn by combining otherwise unrelated historical, scientific, and mystical ideas — the Jewish dybbuk, Nazi experimentation, genetic twin phenomena, and of course, creepy kids and hot girls –resulting in this silly PG-13 genre exercise. Odette Yustman stars as Casey, a coed who fears a demon is trying to possess her; Gary Oldman, Idris Elba, Cam Gigandet and Meagan Good try to help her, with varying degrees of success.

Next: Reno 911! Sixth Season hits DVD!



The inept deputies of the Reno Sheriff’s Department carry on after tragic Season 5 losses from their ranks in Season Six, which picks up with a memorial to fallen Officers Garcia (Carlos Alazraqui), Johnson (Wendi McLendon-Covey), and Kimball (Mary Birdsong). In true Reno 911! fashion, more escapades ensue as the Reno cops, led by Lt. Dangle (Thomas Lennon), welcome new officers and encounter guest stars old and new (Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, the Human Giant comedy troupe). Get all 15 episodes uncensored along with outtakes, deleted scenes, and commentary tracks.

Next: Universal releases four classic films, including Ali Baba and Beau Geste



This week, Universal releases four new reissues from their Universal Backlot Series, which has become a great way to reacquaint yourself with (or, discover for the first time) some classic catalog titles. In 1936’s The Trail of the Lonesome Pine (Tomatometer N/A), an Appalachian family feud gets in the way of romance — and industrialization — as Henry Fonda and Fred MacMurray vie for the same woman. The Western genre takes on a wistful sheen in 1962’s Lonely are the Brave (89%), which stars Kirk Douglas as a cowboy living off the grid, pursued by a sheriff (Walter Matthau) in a film scripted by Dalton Trumbo. Shot in “glorious” Technicolor, the 1944 spectacle film Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (N/A) is a sumptuous, if camp, adventure starring the exotic screen star Maria Montez. Finally, check out Beau Geste (100%), the 1939 classic about a trio of French Legionnaire brothers harboring a secret, starring Gary Cooper, Ray Milland, and Robert Preston.

Next: Leelee Sobieski, Steve Zahn, and Danny Glover are strangers on a Night Train


Night Train — N/A




Pandora’s Box meets Murder on the Orient Express in Night Train, a direct-to-DVD thriller about greed and murder among strangers who find a mysterious box in the possession of a dead man on an overnight train. Danny Glover stars as the conflicted conductor, who along with Leelee Sobieski and her Joyride co-star Steve Zahn, wrestles with his conscience over the jeweled contents of the wooden puzzle box. (shades of Hellraiser, anyone?) Making-of features accompany the film.


Next: Jacqueline Bisset in The Deep, in High Definition!



A scuba-diving couple (Nick Nolte and Jacqueline Bisset) discovers a sunken ship full of treasure — and valuable drugs — in this 1977 underwater thriller from director Peter Yates (Breaking Away, Bullitt). Based on Peter Benchley’s novel of the same name, The Deep suffered from comparisons to Benchley’s other deep sea tale — a little story called Jaws — but features a watchable cast (including Robert Shaw, Louis Gossett, Jr. , and Eli Wallach) and blazed the trail for an entire genre of underwater, treasure-hunting films. (Into the Blue? Not very original.) A handful of additional scenes and a lengthy making-of feature make this a fair release for retro film aficionados.

Next: Rapper-turned-actor makes his star-studded directorial debut!



You might remember him best from the 1993 hit single “Slam,” courtesy of his rap group Onyx, but hip-hop-artist-turned-actor Sticky Fingaz (AKA Kirk Jones) has been involved in film and television almost as long. This week, Mr. Fingaz makes his directorial debut with A Day in the Life, a crime saga in which every line — yes, even those spoken by the narrator in this ought-to-be-red band trailer — are rhymed. As in, rapped! Given the impressive cast listing, seemingly comprised of everyone Sticky Fingaz knows in showbiz (including Omar Epps, Mekhi Phifer, Bokeem Woodbine, Faizon Love, Michael Rapaport, Kurupt, Treach, and fellow Onyx musician Fredro Starr), we were a little disappointed by the production values and silly, gratuitous violence on view in the aforementioned trailer. Then again, Fingaz gets points for having the guts to add some realism to the classic movie cliché of the runaway stroller (watch at the 2:32 mark)!

Until next week, happy renting!

This weekend Moviegoers still love Nicolas Cage action flicks as the actor’s latest film, the doomsday thriller Knowing, easily beat out two other new releases to capture the top spot at the North American box office. Opening in second and third respectively were the buddy comedy I Love You, Man starring Paul Rudd and the Julia Roberts-Clive Owen spy pic Duplicity. With the trio of new titles pulling in over $57M, most holdovers suffered sizable drops as the overall marketplace lagged behind last year’s numbers by a slim margin.

Scoring his eleventh number one opening since winning an Oscar in 1996, Cage led the effects-driven actioner Knowing to a strong $24.8M debut, according to estimates. The Summit release averaged a potent $7,447 from 3,332 theaters and gave the young studio its second number one opener in four months. The company’s vampire smash Twilight hit the top of the charts during its November launch and hit DVD this weekend with its Saturday street date. Knowing, which finds Cage playing a professor who discovers a code that can predict future disasters, was rated PG-13 and played evenly to males and females according to studio research. The audience was older as 63% of the crowd was 25 or over. Critics mostly pointed their thumbs down, but ticket buyers didn’t care.

[rtimage]MapID=10003713&MapTypeID=2&photo=7&legacy=1[/rtimage]

The male bonding comedy I Love You, Man debuted in second with an estimated $18M for Paramount. Starring Paul Rudd and Jason Segal, the R-rated laugher averaged an impressive $6,641 from 2,711 locations and performed much like the last comedies from each actor. Rudd’s Role Models bowed to $19.2M last November while Segal’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall opened to $17.7M last April. Both carried R ratings and played to young adults just like Man reaching final tallies of $67.3M and $62.9M, respectively. Reviews were generally positive.

Julia Roberts and Clive Owen debuted in third place with their caper pic Duplicity which grossed an estimated $14.4M from 2,574 theaters for a solid $5,595 average. Universal’s PG-13 film about former spies that plot a con operation against a pair of corporations marked Roberts’ first lead role in a live-action wide opener in more than five years. During that time, the Oscar-winning actress took many supporting roles in films that were not anchored by her like Ocean’s Twelve and Charlie Wilson’s War. This time around she was the main star and settled for third place, but still posted numbers that were very respectable. Openings for her films from the early part of this decade include $11.5M for 2003’s Mona Lisa Smile, $20.1M for The Mexican, and $28.1M for 2000’s Erin Brockovich. Reviews were decent and the adult female audience could continue to show up in the weeks to come. Duplicity had the best Friday-to-Saturday bump among the weekend’s new releases with 27% compared to Knowing‘s 9% and I Love You, Man‘s 7%.

[rtimage]MapID=1203586&MapTypeID=2&photo=5&legacy=1[/rtimage]

Even with no new family films opening, Disney’s PG-rated adventure Race to Witch Mountain still suffered a sizable drop falling 47% to an estimated $13M in its second weekend. After ten days, the Dwayne Johnson starrer has banked $44.7M. Race is nearly on par with Johnson’s last kid-friendly offering for the studio, 2007’s The Game Plan, although it opened stronger and is falling harder. Game Plan bowed to $23M and dipped only 28% in the second frame for a ten-day tally of $43.2M on its way to a $90.6M final. With DreamWorks charging into theaters aggressively on Friday with its 3D toon Monster vs. Aliens which could generate the biggest opening of the year, the Disney actioner may see more big declines ahead ending its run with $80-85M.

In its third weekend, the comic flick Watchmen fell another 62% and grossed an estimated $6.8M raising the 17-day cume to $98.1M for Warner Bros. At its current trajectory, the final domestic gross should finish with about $110M. Universal’s horror redo The Last House on the Left also fell hard dropping to an estimated $5.9M in its sophomore frame, down 58%, for a total of $24M in ten days.

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The Fox companies followed with their $130M+ blockbusters. Liam Neeson’s Taken took in an estimated $4.1M in seventh place, off 38%, for a sum of $133.1M. Fox Searchlight’s Slumdog Millionaire dropped 46% to an estimated $2.7M putting its gross to date at $137.2M.

Falling to ninth place was Madea Goes to Jail with an estimated $2.5M, off 51%, and a total of $87.2M for Lionsgate. The Focus 3D hit Coraline slipped only 21% and pulled in an estimated $2.1M in its seventh round. Cume is $72.8M. Each film is now the second biggest grosser ever for its distributor trailing Fahrenheit 9/11 ($119.2M for Lionsgate) and Brokeback Mountain ($83M for Focus) respectively. Coincidentally, Slumdog is Searchlight’s number two all-time hit but still has a chance of surpassing the $143.5M of Juno.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $94.3M which was down less than 1% from last year when Horton Hears A Who remained in the top spot with $24.6M; and down 19% from 2007 when TMNT opened at number one with $24.3M.

This week at the movies, we’ve got a bromantic comedy (I Love You, Man, starring Paul Rudd and Jason Segel), ominous numerology (Knowing, starring Nicolas Cage and Rose Byrne), and corporate mischief (Duplicity, starring Julia Roberts and Clive Owen). What do the critics have to say?



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I Love You, Man

The term “bromance” has reached a near-saturation point in the movie lexicon, and not a moment too soon. Critics say I Love You, Man is a warm, very funny example of the burgeoning subgenre, featuring some of the best comedic chemistry between two leads since Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. Paul Rudd stars as Peter, a recently engaged guy who realizes that he has no one to be the best man at his wedding. After a series of man-dates, he finds himself (platonically, of course) bonding with Sydney (Jason Segel), a slovenly hipster with plenty of sound advice. The pundits say I Love You, Man is a perfect example of how old formulas can feel new again: with hearty laughs, nuance, and razor-sharp performances. I Love You, Man is Certified Fresh.



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Knowing

Alex Proyas has established himself as one of the more interesting sci-fi directors in Hollywood, but critics say his latest, Knowing, crosses the line that separates profundity and preposterousness. The movie stars Nicolas Cage as an MIT professor who discovers that a random string of numbers on a piece of paper from a recently unearthed time capsule successfully predicted numerous disasters over the last 50 years. As he unlocks the secrets of this strange document, he discovers that the numbers predict future calamities as well. The pundits say Knowing has some interesting ideas and a couple good scenes, but it’s weighted down by its absurd plot and over-seriousness. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down Cage’s best reviewed films. Also, find out what Proyas’ five favorite films are, and don’t forget to play our “Name Nic’s Movie ‘Do” game.)



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Duplicity

Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton) is certainly a smart guy, but critics say his latest, Duplicity, may be just a little too brainy for its own good. The film stars Julia Roberts and Clive Owen as an on-again, off-again couple of spies turned corporate fixers that get involved in an elaborate con game between two multinational companies; as a result, our heroes become increasingly concerned that they can’t trust each other. The pundits say Roberts and Owen exude plenty of chemistry and star power, and Duplicity is nothing if not well-crafted. However, they also feel the film is more cerebral than visceral, and it gets bogged down in a densely complex plot and too many twists and turns.


Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Sin Nombre, a thriller about a young Honduran woman who dreams of emigrating to the U.S., is at 83 percent.
  • The Great Buck Howard, starring John Malkovich and Emily Blunt about a has-been mentalist looking to stage a comeback, is at 71 percent.
  • Valentino: the Last Emperor, a documentary about the legendary Italian king of haute couture, is at 63 percent.
  • Skills Like This, an indie comedy about a failed playwright who becomes a most unconventional bank robber, is at 43 percent.
  • Feature, an essay-like documentary on filmmaker and artist Michel Auder, is at 33 percent.
  • Three new films roll into North American multiplexes and for the first time in ages, all three have a realistic chance of claiming the number one spot. Comedies have been overperforming this year so a slight edge could go to Paramount’s raunchy buddy flick I Love You, Man. Julia Roberts returns with her first major lead role in years with the spy action-comedy Duplicity co-starring Clive Owen. And Nicolas Cage dips into the action well yet again with the doomsday thriller Knowing. The new releases are different enough that they should help the box office climb higher than last week’s levels.

    Hoping to become the fourth R-rated film to hit number one this year, I Love You, Man enters a marketplace that has been very kind to comedy, all sorts of comedies. Produced by DreamWorks and released by Paramount, the buddy comedy about a newly-engaged man who must find a male friend to be the best man at his wedding will appeal to a broad audience. The storyline offers appeal to both men and women and moviegoers from their late teens to their forties will want to take a look. Leads Paul Rudd and Jason Segel both have won over audiences in the past with their various Judd Apatow projects so starpower is ample for this type of film. But Duplicity will appeal to many of the same people and could take away some dough.

    Man will try to get into the same neighborhood as Rudd’s Role Models and Segel’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall which bowed last year to $19.2M and $17.7M, respectively. Both were R-rated comedies debuting outside the prime summer season, but were released a bit wider in just under 2,800 locations. With Madea Goes to Jail being the only comedy in the current top five, the time is right for another broad laugher, even if it has a restrictive rating. Because of the raunchy nature of the humor, marketing materials have fallen into two categories. The studio has wisely used the internet to preview uncensored parts of the film with a hilarious red-band trailer plus age-restricted clips in more recent weeks. But the mainstream commercial spots just aren’t as funny thanks to the limitations of what jokes they can include. Those that only see the TV commercials may not feel that they are going to have a fun time at all. But reviews have been good for the most part which may help convince ticket buyers by Friday. Opening in over 2,500 locations, I Love You, Man could debut with about $18M.


    Jason Segel and Paul Rudd in I Love You, Man

    It’s been over a half-decade since Julia Roberts has headlined a major Hollywood release. She reunites with Clive Owen for the caper film Duplicity with the two popular actors playing former spies trying to pull a fast one in corporate America. Directed by Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton), the PG-13 film co-stars Tom Wilkinson and Paul Giamatti. Aside from raising her three kids, Roberts has kept busy with supporting roles (Ocean’s Twelve, Charlie Wilson’s War), voice roles (Charlotte’s Web, The Ant Bully), and a lead in Closer with Owen which was only given a moderate release playing in less than 1,100 sites at its widest point. These films did not rely solely on her starpower to pull in ticket sales. Now she has the opportunity to show the industry if she still has what it takes to open a film.

    Duplicity is essentially like a less violent version of Mr. & Mrs. Smith. Instead of slam-bang, it’s got chit-chat. Adult women should make up the largest group but the male appeal is strong too. Interest from teens may be light. The marketing has been trying to give off an Ocean’s vibe, only moviegoers know they are getting fewer stars for the money. The Roberts-Owen combo will add some value as the target audience enjoys their chemistry. Universal is not going ultrawide with this title so Danny Ocean numbers are not possible. Plus mature audiences pay attention to critics so the mixed reviews will make some hesitate. Opening in about 2,400 theaters, Duplicity might gross around $16M this weekend.


    Julia Roberts and Clive Owen in Duplicity

    Nicolas Cage headlines Summit’s doomsday action thriller Knowing which finds the Oscar winner playing a professor who discovers a secret code that foretells deadly events about to occur around the world. The PG-13 film boasts no other major stars but Cage is enough to anchor a pic in this genre. His track record varies in this field with big hits like the National Treasure adventures and clunkers like his last offering Bangkok Dangerous which bowed to $7.8M and Next which opened to only $7.1M. Knowing has an intriguing, though unoriginal, plot and TV spots have been cramming all the effects shots into a 30-second package hoping to lure those in need of an adrenaline rush. With some action titles already out, there will be some solid competition. Plus the other two new releases will steal away some business from adult audiences as many will see this as the latest recycled attempt by Cage to save the world. As the weekend’s widest new release, Knowing will invade over 3,000 theaters on Friday and could walk away with about $15M.


    Nicolas Cage in Knowing

    Disney scored a hit last weekend with Race to Witch Mountain which should enjoy a good hold this weekend since none of the new films will steal much cash from the family audience. Looking back at similar live-action hits from the studio, Dwayne Johnson’s The Game Plan dipped by only 28% in its second weekend while Vin Diesel‘s March hit from 2005 The Pacifier fell by 41% although it faced direct family competition. Despite all the new films hitting theaters on Friday, Witch Mountain should still finish in the top five. A decline of 35% may occur giving the effects-driven adventure around $16M for the weekend and a cume of $47M after ten days.

    Watchmen will continue on its downward path but the fall will be less than the hefty 68% tumble suffered last weekend. The Warner Bros. comic flick may see a 55% drop which would give the band of heroes roughly $8M for the frame and push the 17-day total just shy of $100M.

    Rarely does a horror pic fall by less than 50% on the second weekend. Universal’s The Last House on the Left looks to play out in a typical way and may drop 55% this weekend. The revenge thriller would then take in about $6M and raise its ten-day tally to $24.5M. The other vengeance-based film out right now Taken will have some competition for mature adults and action fans. Still, the Liam Neeson sensation has been defying gravity and may slip by only 20% this weekend. Fox would up its cume to an impressive $134M.

    LAST YEAR: Fox’s Horton Hears a Who remained in the top spot for a second straight weekend dropping 45% from its debut to $24.6M pushing its ten-day start to a robust $86M. A trio of new releases followed led by Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns which landed in second with a $20.1M opening and stellar $10,011 average for Lionsgate. Not faring as well were Fox’s horror entry Shutter with $10.4M and Paramount’s comedy Drillbit Taylor which debuted close behind with $10.3M. Final grosses for the three openers were $42M, $25.9M, and $32.9M respectively. Rounding out the top five was 10,000 B.C. with $8.9M in its third frame.

    Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

    He’s one of the most eminently mockable major stars in Hollywood, thanks to his frequently questionable tonsorial choices and evident thirst for somewhat less-than-challenging paycheck gigs, but as much as we love to rib Nicolas Cage, there’s no getting around the fact that he’s done some very impressive work over the course of his long career. Though many filmgoers will always think of blockbuster action flicks like Con Air, The Rock, and the National Treasure series when they hear Cage’s name, he’s never been afraid to take on smaller, less conventional projects with less-than-obvious commercial prospects. With his latest effort, Alex Proyas’ Knowing, heading to theaters this weekend, we thought now would be the perfect time to count down the best-reviewed movies of Cage’s career.

    We asked the Tomatometer to give us a list of Cage’s 10 biggest critical hits, and as always, we think you’ll find a few surprises nestled in among the expected names — and if you’re anything like us, you’ll be impressed all over again by the number of glowing reviews Cage’s work has attracted along with the mountains of box office cash. Join us now as we pay tribute to the finest actor ever to strap on a bear suit and punch a woman in the face — and then play our “Name Nick’s Movie ‘Do” game while revisiting his filmography!


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    Valley Girl

    This might be hard for the young’uns to understand, but in the early 1980s, the Valley Girl was a genuine cultural phenomenon, entering phrases such as “gag me with a spoon” and “like, wow” into the lexicon and giving Frank Zappa a richly deserved Top 40 single. Martha Coolidge’s Valley Girl, starring Cage as a mild-mannered punk named Randy and Deborah Foreman as the titular object of his star-crossed affections, arrived in the thick of the whole fad, and although it wasn’t a huge success at the box office, it helped launch the career of the actor formerly known as Nicolas Coppola. In many ways, Girl seems like little more than your average 1980s high school romance flick, but that’s partly because many of its ingredients were co-opted by subsequent entries in the genre; in the words of MaryAnn Johanson of Flick Filosopher, “It’s a measure of how, like, totally influential this little film was 20 years ago that there seems to be nothing special about it today.”


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    Matchstick Men

    There’s nothing quite like watching a good old-fashioned con movie; unfortunately, most of them tend to forget the “good” part, mistaking random twists and double-crosses for character development and a sensible plot. Not so Ridley Scott’s adaptation of Eric Garcia’s Matchstick Men, starring Cage and Sam Rockwell as a pair of grifters plotting a big score against a wealthy businessman. As Roy, the mentally unstable con man who is forced to question his life’s work after the sudden appearance of the daughter he’s never met, Cage is allowed to act at his sweaty, tic-ridden best; Roy’s countless ailments — including OCD and agoraphobia — tap into the nervous energy that has fueled all his finest performances. Though not all critics took Matchstick Men‘s bait (Garth Franklin of Dark Horizons called it “an example of Scott at his worst”), the cast earned positive notices for its work — particularly Cage, who is, in the words of the Kansas City Kansan‘s Steve Crum, “absolutely terrific down to his eye twitches and neck jerks.”

     

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    Peggy Sue Got Married

    From the California Raisins to Monkees reruns on MTV (and David Bowie cutting an ill-advised cover of “Dancing in the Street” with Mick Jagger), the 1960s were hot in 1986 — and once again, Nicolas Cage found himself starring in a picture that aligned with the latest fad. Peggy Sue Got Married was undeniably Kathleen Turner’s fim, but this story of a prom queen who passes out during her 25-year reunion and wakes up in 1960 hinges on the sweet chemistry between Turner and Cage. As Charlie, Peggy Sue’s high school sweetheart-turned-adulterous husband, Cage exudes all the quirky charm and droopy-lidded intensity that would shortly help him become one of Hollywood’s most bankable stars. (Of course, it also offered an early example of his infamously unusual approach to his work; according to Cage, he modeled his character’s voice after Gumby’s horse Pokey, almost getting himself kicked off the film in the process — no small feat, considering his uncle was the director.) In the words of the Washington Post‘s Rita Kempley, Peggy Sue is “a wistful fantasy, a bright reminiscence, a stroll down memory lane that’s as glowingly conceived as it is slightly flawed.”


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    Birdy

    For a movie that won the Grand Prize of the Jury at Cannes, boasted a soundtrack by a world famous rock star, was made by one of the most well-known directors of the era, and featured a pair of leading men who would go on to greater fame, Birdy has always been curiously overlooked. Alan Parker’s adaptation of the William Wharton novel about the aftermath of Vietnam, as seen through the experiences of longtime friends and fellow vets Birdy (Matthew Modine) and Al (Cage), was too heavy and experimental to hope for major box office success, but instead of going on to achieve cult classic status on the home market, the film that Roger Ebert called “a very strange and beautiful movie” has been largely forgotten. It certainly isn’t your average rental fare, but if you find the time to take in a viewing of this early example of Cage’s dramatic potential, you’ll see what the New York Times‘ Janet Maslin lauded as “enchanting” and eFilmCritic’s Scott Weinberg found “quiet, thoughtful, and really quite touching.”

     

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    Leaving Las Vegas

    The year after Leaving Las Vegas was released, Cage would kick off a string of three straight movies that grossed over $100 million apiece, but when he filmed Mike Figgis’ adaptation of John O’Brien’s bleak semi-autobiographical novel, he was known primarily as a go-to guy for quirky, mid-sized romantic comedies like Honeymoon in Vegas. It wouldn’t be entirely accurate to say that critics were surprised by the depth Cage flashed as Leaving‘s central character, suicidal alcoholic Ben Sanderson — though they probably were shocked by the performance turned in by his co-star, Elisabeth Shue. They certainly were impressed, though, and for good reason; his foggy, muted portrayal of a man at the end of his rope coolly upends the worn-out cliches of countless Hollywood drunkards. As ReelViews’ James Berardinelli put it, “Nicolas Cage, who has a track record of immersing himself in parts, gives one of the year’s most powerful acting turns.”


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    Raising Arizona

    And here, friends, is where the lovably bizarre Nicolas Cage we know and love really had his first chance to shine. He received the opportunity thanks to Joel and Ethan Coen, the directing duo whose distinctively quirky sensibilities would go on to help them rake in scads of awards (and appreciable sums of box office cash) — but who, at the time, had only the 1984 cult classic Blood Simple under their belts. For that reason, and quite a few more, it’s somewhat hard to believe Raising Arizona made its way through the pipeline at 20th Century Fox; from Cage and Holly Hunter’s otherworldly lead performances to Carter Burwell’s yodel-laced score, it’s difficult to conceive of a film more out of step with the theatrical slate that gave audiences Beverly Hills Cop II and Three Men and a Baby. Unusual as its ingredients might be, most critics were hard-pressed to deny Arizona‘s charms; though some (including Roger Ebert) accused the Coens of valuing style over substance, the majority agreed with writers like the Apollo Guide’s Brian Webster, who called it “a remarkable spectacle of overblown characters, sights, sounds and events.”

     

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    Moonstruck

    It’s unlikely that John Patrick Shanley was thinking of Nicolas Cage when he wrote Moonstruck‘s script, but he may as well have been, because there isn’t an actor on the planet who can play an absurdly coifed, incurably romantic, prosthetic-fingered baker the way Nicolas Cage can. Director Norman Jewison does a splendid job of uncorking Cage’s kooky energy, but reins him in enough to keep the sparks flying between Cage’s wildly passionate Ronny and Cher’s buttoned-down accountant, Loretta Castorini. The movie is a heart-on-its-sleeve bit of proudly lightweight fluff, but it’s also one of the sharpest post-’70s romantic comedies you’re likely to see, and anyway, the plot is incidental to the chemistry between the leads; as the Chicago Reader‘s Jonathan Rosenbaum put it, “most of the show belongs to Cher and Cage, both of whom are at their energetic best.”


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    Adaptation

    Plenty of writers have suffered writer’s block, or taken an assignment only to realize they’ve bitten off more than they can chew. It took Charlie Kaufman, though, to turn the experience into a film: Adaptation was inspired by his struggles to adapt Susan Orlean’s The Orchid Thief for Jonathan Demme. Cage plays a fictionalized version of Kaufman here, as well as his entirely fictional twin, Donald; it’s the kind of knotty, layered meta-picture that everyone was looking for from Spike Jonze after Being John Malkovich — and that tends to leave unsuspecting audiences befuddled and critics clamoring for more. Adaptation delivered on both counts, racking up an impressive 91 percent Tomatometer to go with its middling $33 million worldwide gross; still, whatever you think of the movie — and a not-inconsiderable number of critics disliked it, including USA Today’s Mike Clark, who called it “a little too smugly superior to like” — this is one of the few recent projects that has asked Cage to exercise his acting chops. In the words of the New York Times‘ A.O. Scott, “Mr. Cage and Mr. Jonze share a casual, daredevil sensibility, and the two of them — or should I say the three of them? — pull off one of the most amazing technical stunts in recent film history.”

     

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    Face Off

    Its premise is utterly ridiculous, even for a late-1990s action movie, but who cares? When you have a script that allows Nicolas Cage and John Travolta to spend the majority of the film pretending to be one another after a face transplant, and you get a heaping helping of John Woo action set pieces to go with all that acting, nothing else matters all that much. Popcorn thrillers generally don’t earn 93 percent Tomatometers, but Face/Off represents a high point for the genre, and successfully weds thought-provoking subtext to cool slow-motion shots of people beating each other up and exploding stuff. Both of the movie’s stars are clearly having a great time, and why not? As Variety‘s Todd McCarthy wrote, “watching John Travolta and Nicolas Cage square off and literally exchange roles brings back the old-fashioned pleasure of astutely judged movie star pairings in a major way.”


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    Red Rock West

    Nicolas Cage had had his share of successes by the time Red Rock West was filmed in 1992, but neither that nor the additional presences of Dennis Hopper and Lara Flynn Boyle were enough to convince Columbia Tri-Star that John Dahl’s Western noir could be a theatrical hit. The film, in which Cage plays a drifter who takes advantage of being mistaken for a hit man, was headed for video when a San Francisco theater owner purchased a print and sparked an eventual three-city limited run. It wasn’t enough to earn back Red Rock‘s budget, of course, but it helped the movie earn a critical cult following, thanks to a sharp script (co-written by Dahl with his brother, Rick) and solid performances from Hopper, Boyle, and Cage, who offers a reminder of the talent that lurks beneath his frequently over-the-top acting choices. Oh, and it’s also a fun film — one Roger Ebert enjoyed so much he called it “the kind of movie made by people who love movies, have had some good times at them, and want to celebrate the very texture of old genres like the western and the film noir.”


    Take a look at Nicolas Cage’s complete filmography, play our “Name Nick’s Movie ‘Do” game, and check out the rest of our Total Recall archives.

    Finally, we leave you with a collection of mind-blowingly awesome Pachinko commercials starring Mr. Cage:


    Alex Proyas

    This month, director Alex Proyas (The Crow, Dark City) returns with a new film for science-fiction audiences: Knowing, in which a professor (Nicolas Cage) discovers that predictions sealed 50 year prior in a time capsule have accurately predicted a series of disasters in modern history — and that some events have not yet happened. Among his influences for the thriller are William Friedkin, whose Exorcist he says partially inspired him during filming; below, we talk with Alex Proyas as he shares his Five Favorite Films, which range from science-fiction landmarks to horror classics and beyond. (Click to page 2 for our extended interview, in which Proyas discusses Roger Ebert’s idea of “generosity” in a filmmaker, and demonstrates his appreciation of the film critic’s efforts to seriously analyze his 1998 film, Dark City.)

    Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964, 100% Tomatometer)



    Dr. Strangelove
    To me it’s the greatest comedy ever made, and I just love the fact that it’s a comedy but it’s just such a dark one. Apart from the visual treatment of the film…I guess it was the first Kubrick film that I ever saw, and it really had an impact on me as a result of that — because I hadn’t really seen a film that looked like that, that had it’s own unique style.

    Stalker (1979, 100% Tomatometer)



    Stalker
    Andrei Tarkovsky. Again, incredibly… I mean, all these films are extremely influential to my own moviemaking, and they were the kinds of movies that just spun me around. I couldn’t compare them with anything else I’d seen at the time. And Stalker was definitely one of those. There was a sense of pace that I’d never experienced in a film before, such a wonderful sustained atmosphere, and then just this incredible metaphysical story. I think it’s still one of the great science fiction movies, and it’s so philosophical and yet so visual. The philosophical ideas are conveyed in terms of pure cinema and visuals as opposed to people talking. Quite a skill, I have to say.

    Some people might draw that comparison to your own work – films like Dark City.

    Well, I hope so. If I can get anywhere near Tarkovsky, I’d be a happy man. It’s something I would certainly aspire to.


    The Exorcist (1973, 85% Tomatometer)



    The Exorcist
    Friedkin film; one that has actually inspired my current movie. You always dream about making the ultimate horror movie, and I think The Exorcist is it. The fact that it’s about such a dark and bleak subject, and yet it leaves us with a sense of hope, is something that I’ve sort of tried to do with my current movie. Again, it has this fantastic sort of sense of dread throughout the film that kind of takes you to this place you’ve never been to before in a movie.

    It’s totally believable; somehow it makes you believe that this young girl is possessed by the devil, which is no mean feat, I have to say. But you buy it, you know? And it’s also done in such a simple technical way. You know, [it was made] before the age of CGI, and yet it’s as potent today as it’s ever been. It’s extraordinary.


    Psycho (1960, 97% Tomatometer)



    Psycho
    I’m actually going into my favorite filmmakers and trying to pick the best of their films. Because it’s really hard, it’s very very hard to pick your five best[-loved] films. And it would change; if you asked me next week, it would be different. Psycho because…the moment where — and it’s a film I saw on television; I can’t imagine how impactful it would have been to have seen it theatrically when it was first released, but even seeing it as a kid on TV — the moment where Hitchcock, about 30 minutes into the film, kills his leading lady, and you go, “We’re in the hands of a complete madman, and all bets are off at this stage,” was such a powerful thing for me. It’s kind of haunted me ever since, and again, you can only dream of making a film that has that level of impact to an audience.

    The Godfather (1972, 100% Tomatometer)



    The Godfather
    Well, you know, it’s interesting because my favorite films are ones that I keep watching. I just don’t think there have been many great science fiction films made. I mean, 2001 is genius, there’s no question it’s a masterpiece, but I’ve already picked a Kubrick film. I find Dr. Strangelove a more user-friendly and enjoyable film to look at and watch repeatedly. I can watch it endlessly. Blade Runner is a masterpiece, but I don’t know that I would put it in my top 5 at this stage. Maybe at some other point in my life, I would’ve.

    I picked a Hitchcock film. Kubrick, Hitchcock, and Tarkovsky are my absolute Holy Trinity, you know? I’ve picked one from each person now. Oh! Okay, here’s a curveball. Um, no, I don’t want to say that one… I was going to say The Wizard of Oz, which I really like, but I don’t know that I’d put it in my top five, but in my top twenty. [Long pause] Godfather, I’d say. Just a flawless film, something that’s so beautifully crafted and so perfectly structured and designed, that I can watch it endlessly and enjoy it every single time.


    During his film career, Australian director Alex Proyas has always displayed an affinity for science fiction. He is, after all, the filmmaker who followed his post-apocalyptic feature-length debut (the Australian picture Spirits of the Air, Gremlins of the Clouds) by breaking into Hollywood with 1994’s The Crow, a dark comic book adaptation whose production was marred by tragedy. The tale of a supernatural avenger risen from the grave went on to become a hit, and Proyas turned his sumptuous visual style to another fantasy tale: Dark City.

    Dark City, released in 1998, was a sci-fi noir opus about philosophy and romance — Proyas, his visual flair on display, created a vast alternate world in which, at the chime of midnight each night, time stopped and entire cities transformed. The film grew a devout cult following years after release, and was named one of the “Great Movies” by film critic Roger Ebert. After a detour back to Australia to make the rock ‘n roll flick Garage Days, Proyas returned to Hollywood to adapt one of the great Big Idea mythologies of science fiction: Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot.

    This month, Proyas returns with a new film for sci-fi audiences: Knowing, in which a professor (Nicolas Cage) discovers that predictions sealed 50 year prior in a time capsule had accurately predicted a series of disasters in modern history. Below, we continue our talk with Alex Proyas, in which he discusses Roger Ebert’s idea of “generosity” in a filmmaker, and demonstrates his appreciation of the film critic’s efforts to seriously analyze his 1998 film, Dark City).

     

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    Your citation of Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather reminds me of the Dark City Director’s Cut DVD, in which Roger Ebert describes you as a “generous” filmmaker — meaning, a filmmaker that puts so much more onto the screen – production value, complex compositions, even ideas — than they need to.

    Alex Proyas: Well, thank you so much for comparing we two. But I think you’re certainly right in terms of Coppola; I think there’s a lusciousness to his work, there’s a sensuality to it. And I think that’s kind of another expression perhaps of generosity as well. But yeah, there’s something so enjoyable about being inside that movie and enjoying that movie. And sensuality comes to mind. I don’t know why, but it does, you know? It’s a spectacular achievement. Sometimes it’s hard to even pinpoint why you like something. You have to like them from so many perspectives to sort of classify them as your greatest, most favorite films.

    I did like the idea of generosity in a filmmaker; do you feel like that is a characteristic that you have in your films?

    AP: I guess. You know, it’s very nice that people see that aspect and certainly nice that Mr. Ebert saw that aspect. I know what a supporter of that film he was; I very much appreciate it. For me, I guess, like most filmmakers, you kinda just do…you want to make movies that you want to see, and that you think are gonna be cool, basically. You know, you’re your own principal audience, I suppose. So I keep wanting to do stuff that I think would be enjoyable, that I would enjoy, you know? And hopefully there’s enough people — others that sort of conform with your tastes and opinions — that you can keep making them. I think in the case of Dark City and what Roger Ebert was saying was, there’s a detail in the texture of the movie, and a kind of an enjoyment of the visual. There’s a lot of effort put into that side of some of my films that it’s always nice when people respond to that, when people see that care that’s gone into it.

    I mean, it can be somewhat a brutal business because you spend years creating these things, and some of them are embraced and some are not — and it’s very painful when they’re not, when people kind of miss the point or ignore the effort that you’ve made, and don’t even see the effort that’s been put into it. And it doesn’t just happen to me, it happens to everybody. So it’s always nice when someone appreciates the detail. I remember when Roger Ebert was helping support Dark City, he actually did a master class in Chicago, at a university in Chicago, sort of analyzing the movie, and someone video’d it and sent it to me, of him doing that master class. It was really wonderful, the level of detail that he went into over a few hours with this group of students, the thought that he put into it. If you, as a filmmaker, poured a great level of thought into something and care into something, if someone else can put an equal amount into viewing it and enjoying your film, there’s a great sense of satisfaction.

    And that’s one of the reasons why Roger Ebert is one of our greatest living critics, because he takes that level of interest in films.

    AP: I agree, I think he’s truly passionate about the medium, you know? He loves films. He’s a very special person in that respect. I had the pleasure of having dinner with him once years after Dark City. I actually met him at the Sundance Festival and we just had dinner and it was just a great pleasure to sit down with him and just talk about stuff.

    Catch Alex Proyas’ Knowing in theaters this week. For more Five Favorite Films, visit our archive.

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