10 Most Over-the-Top Nicolas Cage Movie Performances

Nic Cage
Image Credit: GIO_LE / Shutterstock.

No one has had a more fascinating career in Hollywood than Nicolas Cage. The nephew of Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola, Cage was determined to set his own course for his career by expanding modern ideas about acting.

His acting style combines influences as disparate as German Expressionism and Japanese Kabuki theater to deliver performances that no one else could bring to the screen. Here are some of his craziest performances to ever grace the big screen. 

1. Vampire’s Kiss (1988)

Image Credit: Hemdale Film Corporation.

Vampire’s Kiss delivers the gold standard of ridiculous Nicolas Cage performances. The film follows Cage’s businessman character, who becomes convinced that he is a vampire and provides some of the most iconic scenes in his career. From shouting out the entire alphabet in the middle of a conversation to running down the street repeatedly screaming, “I’m a vampire!” Vampire’s Kiss is unbeatable for crazy Cage. 

2. Wicker Man (2006)

Image Credit: Saturn Films.

The remake of The Wicker Man is far removed from the strange and spooky original. Instead, it’s a much sillier movie, and Cage’s performance matches that tone. He plays a detective who travels to a mysterious island to search for a missing girl. There, he finds a pagan community that isn’t the most welcoming.

There are over-the-top scenes throughout the movie, but the best among them is when bees torture Cage’s character, and he delivers an incredible meltdown. 

3. Mandy (2018)

Image Credit: XYZ Films.

Mandy became an instant cult classic when it was released in 2018, and Cage’s performance plays a significant role in that. The film follows Cage’s Red and his girlfriend, the titular Mandy (Andrea Riseborough), as they encounter a dangerous cult. Cage’s performance here is especially exciting as he switches between naturalism and over-the-top insanity. 

4. Face/Off (1997)

Image Credit: Touchstone Pictures

Face/Off is an action classic remembered more for its two lead performances than any action scenes. Nicolas Cage and John Travolta play rivals on either side of the law who literally switch faces, allowing them each to play both characters, as well as those characters playing each other. It’s a wild premise that works perfectly because of Cage and Travolta’s commitment. 

5. Raising Arizona (1987)

Image Credit: Circle Films.

One of the silliest movies ever made, Raising Arizona feels like a live-action cartoon for much of its runtime, and perhaps no actor is better suited to that than Nicolas Cage. The film follows Cage’s ex-con and his ex-police officer wife (Holly Hunter) as they kidnap and attempt to raise a baby as their own, and that’s just the beginning of the zaniness on display here. 

6. Wild at Heart (1990)

Image Credit: Propaganda Films

David Lynch’s Wild at Heart offers a surreal and grimy retelling of The Wizard of Oz centering on two lovers on the run: Nicolas Cage’s Sailor and Lura Dern’s Lula. That description only gives a sense of the two performances at its center. Cage and Dern play the lovers with so much joy and energy that it’s impossible to take your eyes off either of them. 

7. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2011)

Image Credit: Marvel Entertainment.

Several Cage fans mention Ghost Rider and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance in discussing the actor’s most over-the-top performances. But my affinity for the sequel earns it a spot on this list.

Spirit of Vengeance is directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, the team behind the Crank films, and you can feel that same chaotic energy throughout the film. Of course, Cage is up to the challenge of delivering a fittingly chaotic performance and has a lot of fun playing with the full and partial transformations between Johnny Blaze and Ghost Rider. 

8. Mom and Dad (2017)

Image Credit: XYZ Films.

Cage re-teamed with Brian Taylor for Mom and Dad, which sees all the parents in a community begin to murder their children. It’s a ridiculous premise and allows Cage to deliver another iconic performance. While the movie has some great chase and suspense sequences, the best moment by far is when Cage sings “The Hokey Pokey” while destroying a pool table with a sledgehammer. 

9. Color Out of Space (2019)

Image Credit: SpectreVision.

Color Out of Space adapts the H.P. Lovecraft short story of the same name but wisely trades in Lovecraft’s ominous tone for something more absurd. As a result, the movie is equally unnerving and hilarious without sacrificing either for the other. Cage’s performance as a father overly invested in the well-being of his llamas is key to making the humor work. 

10. Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call (2009)

Image Credit: Saturn Films.

Directed by Werner Herzog, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call follows Cage as a corrupt, crack-smoking policeman. It’s a strange film that addresses weighty topics with an irreverent tone, somehow making its satire more biting, and Cage’s performance holds it all together. 


The Usual Suspects
Image Credit: Gramercy Pictures.

Written by Kyle Logan

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