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: 10643%
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: 9388%
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: 15312%
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: 21363%
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: 26771%
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: 33272%
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: 41224%
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: 61233%
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: 70533%
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: 88141%
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: 96507%
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

What can we say? This isn’t a very robust week for home releases on video, so we’ve done the best we could to come up with some noteworthy (in one way or another) choices. Not all of these are going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but there are at least a couple of entries that should be widely appealing, if only for nostalgic purposes. The two selections competing for most interesting this week are a Werner Herzog-Nicolas Cage collaboration that many critics felt was Cage’s best performance in years (if not his entire career), while the other is Peter Jackson’s epic fantasy trilogy (do we even need to specify it by name?). We made the best of what was out there, so hopefully something here strikes your fancy.



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Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans

Werner Herzog has stated in so many words that Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans is not intended to be taken as either a remake or a sequel to Abel Ferrara’s 1992 film Bad Lieutenant. While the films do share a title, as well as a central character who is a corrupt cop that regularly indulges in gambling and various drugs, Port of Call New Orleans takes on a slightly campier tone, what with Nicolas Cage in the lead. Here, Cage plays a Louisiana cop who injures his back and becomes addicted to prescription drugs as a result; as he tracks down suspects in a post-Katrina murder case, he sinks deeper and deeper into the dirty underworld of New Orleans. Critics largely praised the film, helping it to a Certified Fresh 85% on the Tomatometer, and many singled out Cage’s performance as one of the best of his career. Port of Call New Orleans didn’t open very wide, though, so if you’re curious to see the movie that many feel Cage was perfectly cast for, then you can pick this up this week.



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The Natural – Blu-Ray

Another classic hitting Blu-Ray this week is Barry Levinson’s beloved sports drama The Natural, starring Robert Redford, Robert Duvall, Glenn Close, and Kim Basinger, among others. The inspiring story of a young baseball player who meets with tragedy early in his life and attempts a professional comeback as a 35-year-old was adapted from a novel of the same name and is considered one of the best sports films ever made, incorporating elements of baseball’s grassroots origins and historical significance, and creating a sort of mythology of its own. The new Blu-Ray comes with the same extras found on the standard definition Director’s Cut DVD, which include several featurettes on the making of the film and baseball in general, with appearances by former players like Ryne Sandberg, Don Mattingly, and Cal Ripken, Jr, as well as a featurette on Eddie Waitkus, the former MLB player who was shot by a stalker and who was one of the inspirations for the novel upon which The Natural was based. Fans of great sports films, Robert Redford, or Barry Levinson will all enjoy the movie, which you can pick up this week in its Blu-Ray reissue.


Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series – Blu-Ray

In 2004, a classic sci-fi TV series from the 70s was resurrected with updated special effects and storylines that regularly referenced or paralleled current world events. The result was a highly successful new show that developed a bit of a cult following all its own and ran for four seasons. Now, the complete series of Battlestar Galactica has already been made available in Blu-Ray before, but that set came in a large box with a collectible Cylon head included. While many fans thought, “Free memorabilia? Cool!”, there were obviously some who just wanted the discs themselves in more traditional packaging. Well, that time has come, as BSG is being released in its entirety in a simple box set that’ll be available this week. If you held off on picking up the series before because you had no interest in the nifty Cylon, then now’s your chance to grab the set in a box that isn’t so hard to file away next to your other DVDs.


Icons of Suspense: Hammer Films

Its proof of powerful cinema that we can’t talk about slaughter on camera without invoking the ghost of one particular shower-related slashing from 1960. Well, Hammer Studios did for the post-Victorian button-up-your-collar prescriptions of Jolly Old England what J-Horror does for the uptight codes of Japanese business and society. However, Hammer Studios made more than BLOOD AND BOOBS pictures, and the fancy thing about this DVD box set (an international package out on Region 1) is its interest in Suspense over Gore or Fantasy. Cyril Frankel’s Never Take Candy from a Stranger, the Box set’s rarest inclusion, is a class-conscious drama about an elderly child molester with impeccable standing in the small town where he does his (ew) work. Plus, well after Michael Powell got publicly lambasted because of the release of his masterpiece Peeping Tom (aka The British Psycho), Hammer producer and executive Michael Carreras made Maniac (1963), a serial killer tale with plenty of nods to its British expat’s precursor. But the jewel in the crown may be Joe Losey’s 1964 These Are the Damned (aka The Damned), and it rolls around in all the angst of the classic exploitation film: backwater teens, atomic anxiety, technology-imposed human mutation, etc. There are six titles in this box, each of them skating lines of social acceptability; gotta love what’s borne of repression.


Madonna’s Sticky & Sweet Tour – Blu-Ray

Only a few inches from the moral decrepitude and gaudy confusion of Hammer Horror we have Madonna’s Sticky Sweet Tour blu-ray. Those not in the know about Madge’s tours on DVD will think this is a sequel to Truth or Dare, but it turns out it’s the singer’s most extensively attended tour yet. Something like 3.5 million fans in 32 countries saw this Live Nation production and now Live Nation is helping the other bajillion fans and facebook gripers fill the gap in their soul left by missing that tour live. Ah, the magic of Blu-Ray. Fancy bit: the show was shot in Argentina and the highlight of that particular stop was a stand-alone performance of “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina.” Classics like “Material Girl” and “Borderline” are present along with newer titles like “Beat Goes On” (reportedly featuring Kanye) and “Get Stupid.” Behind the scenes bonus features included. And yes, that’s right, you just read an RT on DVD writeup for a Madonna concert DVD… Don’t blame us; blame the studios for releasing almost nothing this week!



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Cocoon – Blu-Ray

Another 1980s phenomenon finds its way to Blu-Ray this week, as Ron Howar”s 1985 sci-fi tearjerker Cocoon gets its first high definition rerelease. For those unfamiliar with the film: the story revolves around a handful of senior citizens at a rest home who discover strange alien pods resting at the bottom of their pool; when the seniors decide to take a dip anyway, they discover they feel rejuvenated in both mind and body, and this creates a stir amongst the rest of the residents. Starring a slew of distinguished older actors, including Don Ameche, Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy, Wilford Brimley, and more, Cocoon ultimately won two Oscars (including a Best Suporting Actor trophy for Ameche) and even spawned a sequel three years later. Special features include a Ron Howard commentary as well as featurettes on the actors’ underwater training, how the Antareans (the aliens) were created, and a general making-of special.


The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy Blu-Ray

Peter Jackson made a name for himself when he adapted one of the most beloved (if not THE most beloved) fantasy novel series of all time, the Lord of the Rings trilogy. None of the three epic masterpieces he crafted received any lower than a 92% Tomatometer rating, and the series culminated in a multiple Oscar-winning finale with 2003’s The Return of the King. Now, watching the entire series in one sitting would be quite a feat, but if you really wanted to, now you can finally do it in Blu-Ray, as the LOTR trilogy is finally available in high definition. For those who haven’t yet experienced Middle Earth in all its glory and intrigue, what better way to make the introduction than on Blu-Ray? One thing to note here is that the box set contains the theatrical versions of each film, so you hardcore fans out there may have to wait just a little bit longer to get the extended editions in this format, but if you liked the theatrical versions just fine, then you’d be doing yourself a disservice not to snatch this up right away.

Written by Ryan Fujitani and Sara Schieron

This week at the movies, we’ve got hot teen vampires (The Twilight Saga: New Moon, starring Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson); a football family (The Blind Side, starring Sandra Bullock and Quinton Aaron); and some interplanetary mishaps (Planet 51, with voice work by Dwayne Johnson and Jessica Biel). What do the critics have to say?



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The Twilight Saga: New Moon

Ok, Twihards, we all know you’ve already bought your tickets to New Moon, so you don’t care about what the critics have to say. However, for the uninitiated, the scribes offer few saving graces to this second installment of the teenage vampire chronicle. Kristen Stewart is back as Bella Swan, but this time she’s on the outs with blood-sucking Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). She falls into the arms of Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), who, needless to say, has some secrets of his own. The pundits say that diehards will swoon, but everyone else will be mystified, since New Moon is turgidly paced, unevenly acted, often unintentionally hilarious. (Check out all our New Moon-related features at RT’sTwilight Corner.)



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The Blind Side

Just when you think every last inspirational based-on-true-events sports story has been adapted for the screen, along comes The Blind Side. And though critics say it has plenty of problems, they also say it’s well-crafted and sharply acted. Quinton Aaron stars as a troubled high school football star who’s taken in by an affluent suburban family; naturally, lessons are learned on and off the field. Some pundits say Sandra Bullock is excellent as the family matriarch, and Aaron shines as well – both infuse a formulaic plot with plenty of humanity. However, others feel the film is overly schmaltzy and doesn’t fully address the tricky racial issues at the heart of the story.



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Planet 51

It seems obvious, but we’ll say it again: animated features need more than great visuals to work – they also need strong stories. Unfortunately, critics say Planet 51 is mighty short on plot, along with a whole lot of other virtues. Dwayne Johnson stars as an astronaut who lands on a faraway planet and soon discovers he’s not alone: this strange world looks like 1950s America, only with little green men. The pundits say Planet 51 apes classic sci-fi flicks without adding much in the way of wit or satire; in addition, it’s flatly-paced and has a strange, off-putting preoccupation with bodily functions.


Also opening this week in limited release:

Werner Herzog

During his remarkable 40-year career, Werner Herzog has made some of world cinema’s boldest films — including Aguirre, the Wrath of God, Stroszek, Fitzcaraldo, and a remake of Nosferatu. In recent years, he’s approached mainstream success in the United States, with the eccentric documentary Grizzly Man and the Vietnam war film Rescue Dawn, which starred Christian Bale. His latest, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, features Nicolas Cage and Eva Mendes in the tale of a cop who tries to solve a brutal murder and keep his grip on reality while battling drug addiction, gambling debts, and familial woes.

It’s not just the quality of Herzog’s films that’s made him a favorite of movie buffs; Herzog has become legendary for his exploits both on and off the set. He once promised to eat his shoe if Errol Morris ever finished his documentary Gates of Heaven, and followed up on the bet when filming was completed. He was shot by an air rifle on the grounds of his home while doing an interview with the BBC. During the making of Fitzcarraldo, filming was interrupted by a border dispute between Ecuador and Peru; two members of his crew survived plane crashes; his original leading man, Jason Robards, was hospitalized halfway through shooting, and Robards’ replacement, the legendary Klaus Kinski, was so combative on the set that a group of native extras asked Herzog if they could kill him (these and other tales are detailed in Herzog’s documentary, My Best Fiend), and engineers told him it was impossible to pull a steamship over the side of a hill with the system of ropes and pulleys he was using — and Herzog proved them wrong. Even his latest release has generated its share of controversy: Abel Ferrara, the director of the original Bad Lieutenant, said he hoped the makers of Port of Call: New Orleans would die in an explosion — despite the fact that Herzog says the film is not a remake, since he’s never seen Ferrara’s movie.

In an interview with Rotten Tomatoes, Herzog shared some of his favorite films, and discussed his attraction to film noir, how his films are “secretly mainstream,” and the differences between working with Nicolas Cage and Klaus Kinski.

 

Freaks (1932,
95% Tomatometer)



Freaks

One might be Freaks by Tod Browning. Oh, you just have to look at it. It’s just formidable, it’s phenomenal. You’ve gotta see it. It would take me an hour to explain.

Intolerance (1916,
95% Tomatometer)



Intolerance

Everything that [D.W.] Griffith made: Broken Blossoms, Intolerance, Birth of a Nation, you just name it. Everything. He’s the Shakespeare of cinema. Period. Watch his films and you’ll know instantly.

Where Is the Friend’s Home (1989,
100% Tomatometer)



Where Is the Friend's Home

Some Iranian films, like Where Is the Friend’s Home by Abbas Kiarostami. There’s quite a lot of [great Iranian] films.

Rashomon (1950,
100% Tomatometer)



Rashomon

It is probably the only film that I’ve ever seen which has something like a perfect balance, which does not occur in filmmaking very often. You sense it sometimes in great music, but I haven’t experienced it in cinema, and it’s mind boggling. I don’t know how [Akira] Kurosawa did it. It’s still a mystery to me. That’s greatness.

Nosferatu (1922,
98% Tomatometer)



Nosferatu

RT: I wanted to let you know that Rotten Tomatoes released our list of the best reviewed vampire films of all time, and your version of Nosferatu was number three.

Werner Herzog: Ah, and which is number one and two?

The original Nosferatu

Oh yeah, that has to be number one, of course.

…and Let the Right One In.

It’s okay. I do not need to occupy number two, three, four, and five.

What was the impulse to remake Nosferatu?

Well, I needed to connect to the great films of the grandfather generation, because our parents, our father generation, was a complete disaster and many of them sided with the barbarism of the Nazis. Somehow, you can only really make films embedded in the history of your own culture, and history was disrupted dramatically by the most barbaric regime you can ever find anywhere. So for me it was important to get some solid ground under my feet, connect with the grandfathers, connect with the greatest of them, and in my opinion, the greatest of great films is Nosferatu by [F.W.] Murnau, which I should include in the greatest five films of all time.


Next, Herzog talks about creating working with Nicolas Cage vs. working with Klaus Kinski, and what he thinks of critics.

RT: What initially attracted you to Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans?

Werner Herzog: Well, it’s funny because I think Rotten Tomatoes was only for audiences venting their anger and their disgust. [laughs] I’m surprised that you’re asking serious questions. No, I can make it short. Number one, shooting in New Orleans. Working with Nicolas Cage, I think it can’t get any better. It was clear very, very quickly that we would do this soon together.

While I was watching the film, I couldn’t help but think that Nicolas Cage had some of the same intensity, the sullen eyes, of Klaus Kinski. Was that intentional?

No, no. They had nothing to do with each other. Kinski’s so different, we can only say very few in film history who have this kind of presence on the screen and this kind of intensity. Maybe early Marlon Brando, Nicolas Cage, Kinski, and you’re almost at the end of naming others. But, you see, Kinski never had any humor; in Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, it is absolutely hilarious. He’s so vile and so debased that it really connects with an audience, and there’s a very dark humor about it. It’s the most hilarious film you can ever see. When you see Kinski, it’s never hilarious; he’s just driven by whatever. And Nicolas Cage, I told him there’s such a thing as the bliss of evil; that’s what we are heading for.

Are you uncomfortable with comparisons between your new work and your older work?

No, but what sort of insight would it give us?

So you think that each film should be taken on its own.

No, not necessarily, because of course, when you look at the films i have made… I just had a big retrospective in Paris as the Centre Pompidou; they showed 56 or so of my films, and all of a sudden you get the feeling that yes, they all belong together somehow. In which way, I don’t know; it’s still mysterious to me. But it’s obvious they belong together.

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You’ve answered a lot of questions about whether or not Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans is a remake. Obviously, other than some underlying themes, there aren’t a whole lot of similarities with Abel Ferrara’s film.

It’s not a remake. It was simply that one of the producers had the rights to the title, and they hoped for a franchise. I’ve never seen Abel Ferrara’s film, but what is wonderful about moviemaking is that he came out swinging. [laughs] He’s quite a character, apparently. And I enjoy a baseball game where the benches clear and the manager of the team rushes up to the umpire and yells at him from five inches apart, and then steps back and kicks dust — well, you see, that’s baseball, and I love baseball for it. I hardly understand the game, and I hardly follow who is winning and why, but those are the moments that are the greatest joy you can have in a ballpark. And I think it’s similar with show business, with movies. We are into moviemaking, and that’s wonderful — and of course, Ferrara by now apparently has seen the film and has been reconciled. But, whatever, I’ve never met him.


So you didn’t take it personally when he came out swinging.

No, no, no, because I knew it had nothing to do with his film. But now everybody knows it.


Obviously there’s a film noir-ish element to this movie.

It’s a real noir, but it’s a new step in film noir.


How so?

I think film noir, when you look at the late 1940s, early 1950s — Humphrey Bogart and Edward G. Robinson, whom I love, and others, James Cagney — the abyss of the human soul is always something oppressive, oppressive on human beings, oppressive on society, something really dark. And here, there’s a lighter touch to it, something that gets so bad, so debased, so vile, that it’s just completely hilarious. The joy of doing evil. [laughs] And not the feelings of guilt to do evil, and not feeling oppressed by the evil.


Your last couple of films have been slightly more Hollywood, or at least within the system to a greater degree. Has that changed your filmmaking process at all?

No, I’ve always made mainstream movies. Some of them have been, as I call it, “secretly mainstream.” Let’s say, like Aguirre, the Wrath of God — it’s a film I made in 1971 — that was probably at a time when the parents of those accessing Rotten Tomatoes just left high school, and nobody wanted to see the film at the time. Today, it’s sort of a household name, and it has reached very wide audiences worldwide. So in a way, I think I’ve always been mainstream, and some of the big Hollywood movies seem to me bizarre and marginal in contrast to me, as if I were the center and they were all bizarre and marginal.


Bad Lieutenant is a noir, and your next movie, My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done is a horror film. Are you now trying to play with cinematic form?

No, no. You see I never planned a career like others would do. [Movie projects] are coming at me like burglars in the night — uninvited guests, home invasion.

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So making a horror film isn’t some sort of next step. It’s just sort of how it develops.

Well, My Son, My Son is based on a long-dormant screenplay that I wrote together with a friend, and the time was right to do it right away, so I made — actually in the last 11 months, I’ve made three films, and I’ve staged an opera in Spain, and I started my Rogue Film School, and I released the English version of Conquest of the Useless, my book [about the making of Fitzcarraldo]. Anyway, so I’m not hectic; I just work steadily and I love what I do. But while we are talking, five or six other films are pushing me already, and I don’t know how to deal with it quickly enough.


So what else are you working on?

Give me two hours and I’ll tell you. No, there’s quite a few projects pushing me already.


Is your approach any different when you’re making a feature film and when you’re making a documentary?

In some cases, yes, but let’s face it: Many of my documentaries are feature films in disguise.


I’m sure people have asked you this before, but do you ever ask yourself, “Why did this crazy stuff happen while I was making this movie?” Do you think a certain amount of risk is part of the process?

Well, if there is a project where you know certain risks are involved, whatever is thrown at you, you have to deal with it, and you have to have the nerve and the courage to do it. But, for example, a film like Bad Lieutenant, I always work like it’s open heart surgery: very focused, very quiet, very quick — as a matter of fact, most of my shooting days were over in the early afternoon, because I only shoot what I really need showing on the screen, so I do not cover all angles and all those kinds of things. But in some projects, of course, I have attracted disasters that were not made or not self-inflicted. When you run into a border war between Peru and Ecuador, you cannot foresee it; nobody foresaw it in my camp that I had built for 1,100 people — mostly native extras — that were attacked and burnt to the ground. And I had two plane crashes. You see, you do not plan a plane crash, and then I had two. For example, I shot the film halfway, and my leading actor became ill, had to be flown out to the United States, and his doctors wouldn’t allow him to return, so we had to start all over again from scratch. So these are things which happen, but you have to cope with it and you have to have the perseverance and the courage to start all over again and finish it anyway. You see, I’m one of those who works and delivers, and I’ve never complained.


So there wasn’t any sort of wacky stuff on the set of this one, then. This was a relatively laid back experience.

Wacky stuff — you love to hear about these things, I know that. You’re Rotten Tomatoes, and you want to dig into the rotten apple. [laughs] No, I’m joking. What can I say? No, I have done films that had a certain ambition. If you have to put a huge steamboat over a mountain in the Amazon jungle, you know this is going to be complicated, there will be difficulties, there will be technical setbacks, there will be whatever. But once you are going for it, there is a point of no return. You have to take on whatever is going to come at you.

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What did the shoe taste like?

I do not remember. I only remember that we stuffed it with a lot of garlic, and since I cooked it in duck fat, which was the main course at Chez Panisse, this famous restaurant in the Bay Area, but the duck fat actually heats at much higher temperatures than water when it boils, but it made the leather shrink, and it became tougher and tougher, and I could only eat it by cutting it in little pieces with a pair of poultry shears. So in order to swallow it down, I think I had at least or more than a six pack of beer to gulp it down. I only remember that I was pretty drunk after this whole thing, and I don’t remember much of the taste. The actual taste was more beer than anything.


Do you ever miss working with Kinski?

No. We made five films and as I said quite a few times, every grey hair on my head I call Kinski. [chuckles] No, it was also wonderful to work with him, even though he was the biggest of all pestilences, and I mean borderline paranoid, and throwing hysterical tantrums three, four, five times a day. But I always knew it was worthwhile, because he was such a tremendously gifted man. He had the grace of God upon him. Nicolas Cage is one of those who has some sort of grace upon him, and you don’t know where it comes from. There are few people who have it.


You’ve never had much of a use for the academic or critical side of cinema, right?

No, no, no. Of course not. Why should I? It doesn’t make a film better or worse. A good review doesn’t make a film better, and a bad review doesn’t make it into a bad film if it has substance, you see. Aguirre, the Wrath of God was voted the worst film of the decade in Germany. Back then I had the feeling, “They’re all wrong! They’re idiots! They’re all wrong!” But I’ve really never worried. I don’t worry about being exposed to the vitriolic sort of attacks upon me. I’m ready to take them on.


The film critic Lotte Eisner told you to keep going after some of your early films didn’t get the love you’d hoped for…

It wasn’t love. They were utterly, completely, desperately ignored, and nobody ever came! So she was a really encouraging voice. She kept me going for a decade by making a strong statement. And I travelled on foot from Munich to Paris when she was dying — I wouldn’t allow her to die. I walked, like, in a pilgrimage, and when I arrived she was out of the hospital. She lived another eight years until she was almost 90!


I know I’m not the first, and I won’t be the last, to ask you about some of these things that have happened to you. Do you ever tire of telling these old stories?

No, I haven’t spoken about Lotte Eisner for at least a decade. It just came to mind. Let’s face it: I’ve lived my life through the films, and there’s nothing wrong to talk about it and get it across to an audience. That is part of the profession of a filmmaker.


Look for Werner Herzog’s
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans
in theaters this Friday in limited release. For more Five Favorite Films,

visit our archive
.

Okay, for everyone lamenting Nicolas Cage‘s decade-long slide into talent-wasting, hairpiece-abusing blockbuster mediocrity — this one’s for you.

Below is the production trailer for Werner Herzog‘s remake of Abel Ferrara‘s 1992 cult film — this time called Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans — with Cage taking on the corrupt, drug-taking cop role made infamous by Harvey Keitel.

An aghast Ferrara had fired some unflattering words at Herzog and Cage a while back, but we have to admit, this looks kind of insane in a good way. Or maybe just totally awful — it’s hard to tell with Cage these days. Still, he does seem awake, Herzog’s no slouch in wrangling lunatic performances (Kinski’s the benchmark, after all); plus, there are lizards, Eva Mendes, Val Kilmer and… breakdancing souls. This could go any way, really.

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