Nicolas Cage is an interesting human being. When we came up with the idea to use one of our brackets to determine the Cagest Movie, we knew it wouldn't be easy but we really knew it wouldn't go as planned. This is the story of what happened.
We wanted to create a bracket to determine which movie was the "most Cage". I know what you're thinking. What makes any movie more or less Cage than any other movie? We didn't know. We wanted the voters and the results to help us get an idea for what makes a great Nic Cage movie and it worked.
Creating the Bracket
About three quarters of the movies in the bracket were no-brainers. National Treasure, Vampire's Kiss, Face/Off, ect. A couple were more difficult. Moonstruck was a big movie in Nic's career, but we at MBS hate Cher. DJ thought Drive Angry was a big contender and Nando liked Superman Lives as a dark horse. In the end neither movie made it in and Matchstick Men and Raising Arizona were last minute additions over Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengange.
Seeding the bracket was far too difficult. We considered using years of release or Rotten Tomatoes scores but eventually we decided to do what Nic would do and randomly assigned positions. We were off.
Round 1: The Reckoning
Our first round had a lot of talent. The movies ranged from Oscar Nominees to some of the worst movies ever made. You'll never guess which of those groups consistently lost.
Most of the Oscar Nominees were out in the first round. Adaptation, Raising Arizona, and Leaving Las Vegas all didn't last a single round. Matchstick Men, Nando's personal favorite, also lost. So, good non-action movies was the first group to go.
The second group was lesser known trainwrecks. We advertised voting to everyone, not just Cage fans. They likely were not aware of The Weather Man, Bad Lieutenant, or clearly not aware of Vampire's Kiss. That one made some people very unhappy but that's how the cookie crumbles. DJ and I absolutely love watching The Weather Man and if one person checked it out because someone saw it in this bracket, we did our jobs.
The most surprising first round loss came when The Wicker Man bested National Treasure. We knew the random seeding would lead to some casualties and when it came down to it, The Wicker Man was a more Cage movie. Treasure was big for Nic because it was popular and made a boatload of money, but it didn't have many of the essential elements of a Cage movie (which will be covered later).
Round 2: Redemption
The second round went about how you would expect. Con Air crushed Lord of War. Face/Off decimated The Rock. The Wicker Man held its own against Gone in Sixty Seconds. The only close match was between Kick Ass and Ghost Rider. It seems that while Ghost Rider had its moments and clearly a far greater quantity of Cage, Kick Ass had more quality Cage and succeeded in advancing to the next round.
This is where we nailed down our first Cageism. All of the remaining movies, and most of the defeated ones, had the epic Cage freak out. It something Nic does so well and it is probably what he is most known for around these here internet parts. This is why National Treasure had such a hard time with The Wicker Man. Treasure was well rounded but didn't have any standout moments. National Treasure: Book of Secrets did have a juicy freak out moment when Benjamin tried to break into Buckingham Palace, but the first had nothing to rival the classic Wicker Man freak out. So that was our first Cageism: The Freak Out.
Round 3: Annihilation
This round was tough. The final four had four good movies. One was the one Nando and several guests had picked to win it all, but this was as far as it would go.Con Air defeated Kick Ass and, in a surprising turn of events, The Wicker Man beat Face/Off. With two hours of voting left, the subreddit r/OneTrueGod got to voting and unseated Face/Off. It was hard to take. Face/Off had so much Cage. It had John Woo for days. It had the quintessential Cage freak out. It even had the best example of the second Cageism.
We realized in the Final Four round that the second Cageism had to do with identities. You see, Nic Cage frequently plays two characters within the same movie. Kick Ass and Ghost Rider are superhero movies about deal with the idea of a secret identity. In Vampire's Kiss Nic must play the regular and Vampiric Peter Leow. Adaptation has Nic playing two twin brothers. The greatest example of all is Face/Off which features Nic playing a psychopathic terrorist and a hero who it just trying to get his family back all which Travolta is playing the terrorist's version of the hero. It can be a lot to take in. That is the second Cageism: The Multiple Identities
Round 4: Resolution
As most people predicted, Con Air beat The Wicker Man in the final round earning it the title of Cagest Movie. Con Air is the quintessential 90's Die Hard rip off wherein convict Cameron Poe is in the wrong place at the wrong time when a terrorist takes control of the convict carrying air plane forcing Poe to work with the authorities to bring the plane down and recapture the convicts. The movie has its moments. There are no incredible freak outs, but you get some moments of Cage yelling and acting bizarre. He also has an incomprehensible accent that nobody believes for a second. The incredibly low stakes premise ends with Cage and John Cusack's character basically forcing the convicts to make an emergency landing right through the middle of the Vegas strip (a location where Cage characters frequently visit) which causes incredible amounts of damage as well as hundreds of casualties. This movie brought us to our third and final Cageism.
Nic Cage movies are like sex, pizza, and Saturday. When they're good, they're good. When they're bad, they're still pretty good. With Bruce Willis or Stallone in the role, Con Air would not have been as fun. It would have been average. There is something about Nicolas Cage's charisma and charm that turns his flops into hits. The Weather Man is one of the worst movies I have ever seen but if it's on TV, I'll watch. Nic's very presence is an undeniable part of how his career has continued through years of flops. It is hard to imagine that there would have been a second Ghost Rider if anyone else was in the chair. This is the final Cageist: He makes all of his movies watchable.
So that is the whole story. We learned a lot. We hope you did too. Join us for future brackets. You can check the past brackets out here. Subscribe to us on Facebook and Twitter and listen to our Podcasts. Enjoy the rest of your February and remember to always put the bunny back in the box.