“To be a good actor you have to be something like a criminal, to be willing to break the rules to strive for something new.” – Nicolas Cage
Nicolas Cage is a legendary star performer with a unique acting style, often described as the Nouveau Shamanic. While this actor has already bagged major awards including ones at the Academy and the Golden Globes, the actor has often talked about how he needs to explain his oeuvre in a book. With infectious enthusiasm, raw charm and unpredictable movements, Cage has the innate power to captivate the audience’s attention; he also harbours in himself the capacity to make any boring and unsatisfactory plot somewhat riveting. Described as “the jazz musician of American acting” by the auteur David Lynch, Cage has received high praise from fellow actors, including Ethan Hawke who likened his unique style and experimental acting to that of Marlon Brando and his constant pursuit for something new.
Born as Nicolas Kim Coppola to parents who were already cultivators of liberal arts, Cage is the nephew of legendary director Francis Ford Coppola and, with early desires to becoming an actor, he has attributed his interest in the field having been inspired by the great James Dean. Having watched Dean’s performance in East of Eden and Rebel Without A Cause, Cage admitted that “nothing affected me—no rock song, no classical music—the way Dean affected me in Eden. It blew my mind. I was like, ‘That’s what I want to do’.”
Despite nepotism being one of the most critical and tainting issues in film industries nowadays, Cage was not a product of it. He had indeed beseeched his uncle to give him a shot but always received “silence” as the only reply. He changed his name to Nicolas Cage to distance himself from his uncle’s success and start afresh in the film industry. Having debuted in a minor role in the cult classic Fast Times At Ridgemont High, cage quickly won hearts with his honest and heartfelt performances. He has worked with prominent directors including David Lynch, Martin Scorsese, Ridley Scott, Francis Ford Coppola and more.
Cage has received two Oscar nominations for playing Charlie Kaufman in Adaptation and a depressed alcoholic Ben Sanderson in Leaving Las Vegas, of which he won the Academy Award for the latter. Although he has often been vehemently criticised for his outlandish and distinctive acting style, with many of his films tanking at the box office, Cage’s pure talent has been the cause of envy and has cemented his rich legacy of adventure films in the cinematic history.
Only on the 5th of January 2021, did Netflix release History of Swear Words starring the excellent and suave version of a bearded Nicolas Cage whose penchant for profanities takes a delightful turn. On his 57th birthday, we scoured through Netflix to look for some other great films starring this Madhatter. As a streaming platform, Netflix has a great range of films, but unfortunately, they do not feature some of Cage’s best work. However, we listed the ten best Nicolas Cage films for fans to binge on. Netflix, please start streaming his best films soon!
10 best Nicolas Cage films on Netflix:
10. Trespass (Joel Schumacher, 2011)
Diamond dealer Kyle Miller lives with his wife Sarah in a beautiful mansion, living a seemingly perfect and lavish life. However, their world falls apart when their house is invaded by robbers disguised as policemen. Soon they realise that after the robbers have got what they wanted, they will likely be killed.
Nicolas Cage and Nicole Kidman team up in this thrilling film. While the film was not very well-received, the film portrays a wonderful emotionally dysfunctional family where Nicolas Cage as Kyle Miller was nominated for a Worst Actor Razzie.
“ This is a negotiation. You have the power to take our lives, but I have the power to make you rich. Let her take the car and drive away and I’ll do that. I’ll open the safe and make you rich.”
9. Next (Lee Tamahori 2007)
Cris Johnson has the boon and bane of premonition where he can see events before their occurrence. A magician by profession, he is suddenly pursued by Callie Ferris, a government agent, to help her stop a terrorist organization from detonating a nuclear weapon.
Although the film is compelling, it somehow collapses due to its over-ambitious nature. Nicolas cage and Julianne Moore are quite a show and carry the somewhat weak plot forward.
“You don’t believe in destiny?”
8. Seeking Justice (Roger Donaldson, 2011)
High school English teacher Will Gerard’s life is shattered when his wife Laura is brutally raped. After he exacts revenge by seeking help from an organization, these vigilantes return to seek homicidal favour from Will which marks the unravelling of a complex plot.
The interesting usage and symbolism in the phrase “the hungry rabbit jumps” is iconic. Nicolas Cage plays his phoney role as a distressed husband well. The film is quite thrilling and deserves being pondered over.
“We’re just a few citizens seeking justice.”
7. World Trade Center (Oliver Stone, 2006)
Based on real events surrounding the 9/11, the film is a gripping portrayal of the events that followed and the heroic deeds of the selfless people who tried evacuating the tower to save innocents with zero regard for their own lives.
Nicolas cage plays John McLoughlin, the man who was rescued nearly a day after being trapped in the rubble and ruins. Although the film has been criticised for capitalising on the trauma as well as inciting conspiracy theories, it is nerve-wracking and emotionally scarring.
“9/11 showed us what human beings are capable of. The evil, yeah, sure. But it also brought out the goodness we forgot could exist. People taking care of each other for no other reason than it was the right thing to do. It’s important for us to talk about that good, to remember. ‘Cause I saw all of it that day.”
6. Knowing (Alex Proyas, 2009)
Professor John Koestler’s son finds a document which comprises details encompassing disastrous events in the past as well as predictions for future catastrophe. When others refuse to believe John, he calls upon the author’s granddaughter and daughter to try and save the world from the impending dangers.
Absurd and strange, this film has not been well-received at the box office as Cage seems to be a brooding and depressed man throughout. However, the bizarre plot and the dark atmospheric strangeness adds to the nuttiness of the film and makes it worth several rewatches.
“Don’t let him watch the news.”
5. The Frozen Ground (Scott Walker, 2013)
A sick and perverted, seemingly good man named Robert Hansen has a twisted habit of abducting, raping and killing women. After he fails to kill Cindy Paulson, she assists an Alaskan state trooper Jack Halcombe to hunt this man down and give him his due.
While the film deals with a serious issue, it has received somewhat mixed audience reactions. Nicolas Cage’s performance has singlehandedly carried the film forward and is one of the raging highlights of it.
“You know, he stalks them like his next trophy animal, he rapes them and kills them. He is probably doing it right now. We don’t have a few days!”
4. Snowden (Oliver Stone, 2016)
A renegade, hero and legal absconder, Edward Snowden is an ex-contractor ar the National Security Agency who leaks classified data and information after resigning from his job due to severe dissatisfaction.
Based on a true and controversial story, the film does not witness Cage at his best as an Intelligence official. However, the film itself is gripping and Edward Snowden’s story is worth investing time and energy into.
“There is simply no way to ignore privacy.”
3. Ghost Rider (Mark Steven Johnson, 2007)
Reeking of Faustus’ deal with Mephistopheles, the film follows a stuntman Johnny Blaze tricked into selling his soul to the devil in exchange for his father being cured of cancer. Johnny transforms into the Ghost Rider who seeks justice in every corner where evil lurks. He is assigned the task of destroying Blackheart, a demon worse than Mephistopheles who will wreak havoc on earth.
Cage felt connected with his role as a stuntman as his riding stunts somehow led him to feel bound to his father who had given him riding lessons. He brings unimaginable depth to an otherwise groovy character and has spoken of how he played him “more as someone who… made this deal and he’s trying to avoid confronting it, anything he can do to keep it away from him”. Funny and rebellious, this film is one of my go-to watches on nights when I crave nothing but pure entertainment.
“My daddy once said ‘If you don’t make a choice, the choice makes you.’”
2. Matchstick Men (Ridley Scott, 2003)
In this black comedy film, Roy Waller is a depressed con artist suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder. As he and his partner Frank are about to undertake a potential swindle, it is thwarted and further complicated by the arrival of Roy’s estranged daughter, Angela who wants to subsequently learn the ‘business’.
Ridley Scott’s experimentation with light and shadows work wonders here as it accentuates Roy’s frenzied mind, played by the talented Nicolas Cage. Scott seems to have found some common ground with his OCD-driven protagonist and is “worth every cent” paid for the tickets due to its “sly, biting sense of humour” and “emotionally satisfying” elements.
“To some people, money is a foreign film without subtitles.”
1. National Treasure (Jon Turteltaub, 2004)
Historian and cryptologist, Ben Gates has been searching for an alleged ancient treasure and joins an expedition to locate clues which links the presence of it to the very root of the creation of American civilisation. However, when he is betrayed by fellow competitor Ian Howe, gates must race against the clock while being pursued by FBI.
Unpredictable and wild, the film is not the best treasure hunt film out there. However, Cage is enthusiastic with an infectious presence. Often called dorky, it is a fun family-friendly watch for all.
“I’m so sorry I dropped you – I had to save the Declaration!”