If there were ever an actor that could captivate audiences with every single performance, it would be Nicolas Cage, right? Not for his sheer acting talents, but for his ability to be, well, Nicolas Cage.
Born Nicolas Kim Coppola, he’s part of that Coppola family. His entire family tree has been full of famous and award-winning actors, filmmakers, and other performing artists. With his lineage, it comes as no surprise that Cage has become a famous actor in his own right.
There’s no denying that he’s received plenty of accolades, including an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award. Check him out in Leaving Las Vegas, Adaptation, or Moonstruck if you want “good” Cage.
But if you really want Nicolas Cage, you want unhinged Cage. He exists outside of the realm of “good” or “bad.” He’s swinging for the fences and yelling obscenities for half the movie. His face is twisted into expressions that you didn’t know were possible. That’s “full Cage” Cage.
Hey, what else do you expect from a man who went on a literal quest for the Holy Grail? It sounds like a plotline from the National Treasure franchise, but I assure you, he did it in real life.
So, without further ado, here are the top five movies where he goes “full Cage.” These are the movies that make treasure-hunting Cage look normal.
When I mentioned putting together a list of the most unhinged, most Nicolas Cage-y movies, a PopTonic colleague immediately said, “[Mandy has] gotta be one of his more unhinged performances, I would think.” And you know what? It is.
This peculiar, psychedelic thriller has everything an unhinged Cage needs: evil bikers, mountains of cocaine, and blood-drenched axe battles. The true unhinged centerpiece, though, is Cage’s alcohol-fueled bathroom freakout, downing a bottle of vodka and screaming while covered in blood.
Ghost Rider (2007)
I saw this movie when it came out in theaters, and boy, was it something. Nicolas Cage joined the Marvel universe before the MCU was an official thing, and he did it on a motorcycle in 2007’s Ghost Rider. It’s the movie that allowed Cage to play his absolute hero, Johnny Blaze, aka Ghost Rider. He’s a stunt rider who also happens to be Satan’s bounty hunter, with his head exploding into a fiery skull at night.
As you can imagine, Cage is unhinged here, clad in lots of leather and whipping chains around. It’s the kind of movie that gets burned into your brain. (See what I did there?!)
Luckily for everyone who couldn’t forget the bizarre movie, Cage came back to do it again with Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. Double down on the Cage-isms!
The Wicker Man (2006)
Say it with me: “Oh no! Not the bees!”
No list of wacky, unhinged Nicolas Cage performances would be complete without The Wicker Man. In the remake that literally nobody asked for, Cage stars as police officer Edward Malus. He’s investigating the disappearance of a young girl on an island populated by vaguely sinister Neo-Pagans. Between the bees, Cage punching ladies, and the bear suit, the entire movie is a folder full of Cage memes.
But really, try not to laugh as Cage wears a bear suit and wallops a woman in the face. I can’t even stop laughing as I write that.
If you’ve never seen Deadfall before — which is pretty likely, to be honest — I urge you to track down a copy. Perhaps you can find a VHS lingering behind a shelf at your local thrift store. It fell back there some 25 years ago and no one has cared to retrieve it.
This crime drama was actually directed by Cage’s brother, Christopher Coppola, and it is quite the treat. It has a big, shiny 0% score on Rotten Tomatoes, so you know it’s good.
Cage plays Eddie, a guy who looks like he’d hang around outside the pool hall with Matthew McConaughey’s character in Dazed and Confused. His dialogue is more screaming than speaking, a true mark of unhinged Cage. And if you can’t get enough, Cage reprised his role as Eddie for a completely different movie, Arsenal. He donned the same wig and everything, despite the fact that it was a full 23 years later.
Vampire’s Kiss (1988)
In Vampire’s Kiss, Nicolas Cage is a literary agent who thinks he is turning into a vampire after he was bitten by a vampiress. Except he’s really just losing his mind.
His declining mental health is clear through increasingly bizarre rants that scare a psychiatrist. A struggle with a bat arouses him. He starts wearing fake plastic vampire fangs and erratically biting necks in a club. And you can’t forget Cage’s vaguely British accent that comes and goes or the fact that he ate a real cockroach for the film.
Cage’s entire performance in this film is deliriously bug-eyed, unpredictable, and disturbed. It’s unhinged “full Cage” at his finest!