There’s no question that Nicolas Cage is an exceptional acting talent. The Long Beach-born actor won an Oscar for his performance in Leaving Las Vegas, one of the most depressing and raw movies I have ever seen. And his recent film, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (on which he’s also credited as a producer), has received outstanding reviews from critics and fans alike. But, when you have a filmography that’s as long as a novel, you’re bound to have made some bad movies. Such is the case with Nicolas Cage. Seriously, look at his filmography. It’s outrageously long.
Particularly in the middle of his career, during the late 2000s and early 2010s, Cage acted in quite a few direct-to-DVD films that received atrocious critical reviews. However, in my opinion, and the opinions of many others, these “terrible” films are still wildly entertaining, mostly because of Cage’s willingness to employ bizarre acting techniques and push his roles to the absolute extreme. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I enjoy some of Nicolas Cage’s “worst” movies more than I do his critically acclaimed films.
So, if you’re like me and you appreciate bad movies, well, this is the master list of the 5 best Nicolas Cage movies that are so bad that they’re good. Side note: there are plenty of Nicolas Cage-themed drinking games only that can make watching these films even more fun.
1. The Wicker Man
The original version of The Wicker Man was a British folk horror film from 1973 that starred the great Christopher Lee. This film received excellent reviews from critics and even won some awards. Fast forward to 2006, and a new version of The Wicker Man was released starring Nicolas Cage. And this version was a far cry from the masterpiece of British cinema that the original version was. The Rotten Tomatoes critics’ consensus said of the 2006 version, “Puzzlingly misguided, Neil LaBute’s update of The Wicker Man struggles against unintentional comedy and fails.”
And that specific review really hit the nail on the head. This film was so nonsensical, over-the-top, and downright cringy that it’s actually hilarious the entire way through. As to be expected, Nicolas Cage’s antics are strange and caustic and completely out of place in many scenes throughout the movie. The plot is impossible to follow. And the final sequence features a whole lot of Cage screaming wildly and cursing “you bitches!” It’s truly incredible.
2. Ghost Rider
Nicolas Cage’s first foray into the superhero role, technically, was the 2007 film Ghost Rider. I say “technically” because Nicolas Cage is always a superhero in every role he plays and he’s also a superhero in real life. Anyway, Ghost Rider was based on a Marvel comic book character of the same name. The movie follows a stuntman named Johnny Blaze who agrees to sell his soul to the demon Mephistopheles in order to save his father from cancer. As a result, Blaze becomes the Ghost Rider, a bounty hunter for Mephistopheles who hunts down demons on a motorcycle.
The entire premise of this movie had the makings of the most overly macho, testosterone-fueled piece of cinema ever made. And it didn’t disappoint. This film was basically an hour and a half of Nicolas Cage (or Nicolas Cage with a CGI’d skull for a head) riding around on a chopper, pulling outrageously dangerous stunts, and beating the shit out of bad guys. Unfortunately, the dialogue in this film was laughably bad and there were a ton of puns and catchphrases that begged the question, “Was this film written by a professional Hollywood screenwriter or someone’s drunk uncle?”
As I mentioned before, Nicolas Cage is known for having acted in some of the worst movies you’ve ever seen. However, amidst the many terrible movies that he’s been credited in, many consider Deadfall to be the worst. And, unlike some of his other beloved “terrible” movies, Deadfall actually has a fairly star-studded cast. This film starred Michael Biehn (who you may recognize from several James Cameron-directed sci-fi films) as well as the indelible Charlie Sheen. Yes, this film has both Charlie Sheen and Nicolas Cage. I’m surprised the set never burst into flames during production.
Deadfall has gone down in history as one of the worst con movies of all time. Nicolas Cage plays a mob boss who’s supposed to strike fear into the hearts of the audience. However, Cage’s acting is so heavy-handed and over-the-top that the whole performance comes across as absolutely hilarious. Much like The Wicker Man, Deadfall is a masterpiece of unintentional comedy. And, if you like Deadfall, there was an equally awful sequel to this film called Arsenal that features Nicolas Cage in the same role. How exactly the Deadfall producers got the funding to make a sequel is a great mystery.
4. Left Behind
While many Nicolas Cage films like Lord of War and Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (both of which are actually great movies that you should definitely watch) show the actor portraying a drug-guzzling heathen with no moral compass, the 2014 film Left Behind features Nicolas Cage as a man on a quest to find religion and morality. Cage plays Rayford Steele, an airline pilot who’s one of the few survivors of an apocalyptic event that causes most of humanity to disappear. Perhaps all of these people have been called to heaven and the unworthy have been “left behind”? It’s unclear.
Nearly every bit of acting in this film is uncomfortable. The whole premise of the film is supposed to be inspired and profound, but it’s really just confusing and hammy. For these reasons and more, Left Behind currently holds a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and, after seeing the movie, I would agree that that’s the score it deserves. Even for someone who loves terrible Nicolas Cage movies, Left Behind was hard to watch.
5. Grand Isle
The 2019 film Grand Isle is an action-thriller starring Nicolas Cage as a heavy-drinking Vietnam veteran who is haunted by his past. Personally, that’s about all I need to hear to decide that I’m going to love this movie. Cage’s character is named Walt, who has a long, unkempt beard and lives with his wife Fancy who constantly pesters him about not having any children. However, when Walt hires a guy named Buddy to fix his fence, Walt’s tensions with his wife go to a pretty dark place.
Essentially, Walt tries to enlist Buddy to kill his wife, even giving him a vial of cyanide that he has stashed in his attic, by trying to convince Buddy that his wife is terminally ill anyway. But, instead of killing her, Buddy has sex with Walt’s wife Fancy. Fancy finds out about Walt’s plan to kill her and then stabs him out of revenge. Then, somehow, Buddy discovers that Walt and his wife are holding a bunch of teenagers prisoner. The whole plot of this film is not very well thought out and Nicolas Cage’s character has no motivations for his horrific actions apart from “he’s messed up from Vietnam.”