The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent has all but certainly been released since this has been published which means audiences nationwide can see the definitive meta tribute to all things Nicolas Cage. But it is only right that this site has its own dedication to one of the most puzzlingly marvelous actors to ever grace the eyes of moviegoers. He is a man with so many great works, that this list only counts down the best of his more recent works. These are the 10 best Nicolas cage movies of the 21st century.
1. Pig (2021)
In the same way that John Wick marked the official return of Keanu Reeves to the upper echelons of Hollywood, Pig seemingly solidified Cage’s return to mainstream popularity. After years of having of being in small, middling indie projects, Cage finally stars in one that was actually worth seeing. Pig is a testament to just how good of an actor Cage is. He uses this quiet, brooding character to go against the zany, intensely angry persona he has built up for literal decades. Pig is about the softest Cage project you will find.
It is a tribute to the smaller things we love in life with a poetic ending that asks us how do we move on when the smaller things dissipate. The restaurant scene is one of the best Cage has ever been in, and it on the whole is a film that seemingly gets deeper the more you think about it. It certainly is a nuanced tale of revenge and letting go, but it also is rather densely packed with commentary on pretentiousness food culture and any art form for that matter. It mocks selling out and following trends and wholeheartedly embraces sticking to your aspirations, no matter how nonsensical or “uncivilized” they may be.
2. Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse (2018)
Into the Spider Verse is obviously not a huge showcase of Cage’s acting talents. Of course, Cage is still phenomenal in the role and makes every line he’s given a marvel of voice delivery (“We don’t pick the ballroom. We just dance” a huge standout). But even if it’s not an anthemic work for Cage himself, Spider Verse is a work to take immense pride in. Cage is merely a hilarious audition to an exceptional group of heroes that burst with personality. The dazzling, inventive animation, Miles’ authentic hero’s journey, and the film’s insightful look into what the character of Spider-Man means are the shining stars.
Cage is a delightful addition to a vibrant cast of heroes and villains, each one just unbelievably memorable and quotable in their own right. The whole film does not crumble in his absence. The interplay between Miles and Peter B. is too well written for a side character’s removal to have such an impact, but who are we kidding? Is Spider Verse really the same with any other voice actor drinking milkshakes and solving Rubik’s cubes? No, because it’s Nicolas freaking Cage.
3. Mandy (2018)
But enough of Nic restraining himself or being a background character. Just because we do not want Nic to overact to oblivion does not mean people are not craving the batshit lunacy projects he takes part in. It’s so metal. So unforgiving in its harsh colors and violence. Goes so hard in B movie dialogue that you halfway through you cannot tell if it is even aware of how 80s it truly is.
It has just the right amount of sincerity to make it work, largely thanks to an underrated Andrea Riseborough performance and a score with a lot of flexibility. A beautiful revitalization of Nic Cage excess that does not lose its artistry among its chainsaw fights and hilarious low brow jokes. The film is just as hypnotic and metal as its poster. If you don’t vibe with it, you better just get out of its way.
4. Color Out of Space (2019)
Color Out of Space was just never going to be as acclaimed as Mandy given its intense similarities. This is very much a throwback 80s bonanza fest where Nic is screaming about alpacas just for the sake of Nic Cage screaming at alpacas. But Color out Of Space is important for assessing Nic’s resurgence because it is a cautious response to past critiques of his movies. It still maintains the fun and unpredictability of Mandy while having a soul, taking time for concrete emotional moments so the style does not trample over the substance.
Its theme of dread is delicately drawn out over the runtime, capturing that slow burn descent into madness that comes with Lovecraft stories. “Lovecraft” is the buzz word when it comes to this movie, but it honestly should be. How many pieces of media outside of Bloodborne faithfully replicate the ominous features of such a neat nano genre? Nowadays, barely any director is giving their time to bring the monsters and imaginative horror of Lovecraft to life. And for Nic Cage to be at his boldest in a movie that does that; that is just marvelous.
5. Prisoners of the Ghostland (2021)
And here is the final entry in the trilogy of madcap projects Cage has done. A movie that revolves around him trying to complete his mission before the bombs attached to his balls explode. Cage once again being bold as all hell here, not at all afraid to lean into the crazy side that arguably cost him his fame in the first place. Sion Sono may not make the best movies of all time, but he certainly makes some of the coolest, and the fusion of western, cyberpunk, and samurai genres just reinforces how awesome the worlds he puts together are.
It likely contains the best action scenes Cage has been a part of post-2000, and is able to reach a hilarious, awe-inspiring climax that does not feel like it is trying too hard to be as weird and out-of-the-box as possible. And, like his other recent efforts, Prisoners of the Ghostland taps into a more profound part of Cage as well. This is another protagonist that expands on Cage playing men that have fallen apart and need violence to in some way quell the suffering they constantly battle from previous loss. What a world we live in to get the seediest and most intelligent version of Cage at the same exact time.