Massive Talent on Mini-Budgets: Nicolas Cage’s 11 Best Independent Films


Nicolas Cage is a bona fide movie star, but “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” is proof of his lifelong commitment to independent films.

When IndieWire first launched at Sundance in 1996, it probably didn’t seem like an industry newsletter strictly focused on out-of-studio movies would have much reason to write about Nicolas Cage. Yes, the eccentric ‘Wild at Heart’ star was just weeks away from winning an Oscar for her performance in ‘Leaving Las Vegas,’ but her roles had otherwise strayed from the experimentation that defined the early part of his career, and into more conventional multiplex fare like “Guarding Tess” and “It Could Happen to You.” By then, anyone who reads Hollywood craft already knew that Cage’s next movie would be “The Rock” – if a time traveler told them that Cage was going to wear the face of John Travolta in a gun opera John Woo the following summer, chances are they’d be like “yeah, that makes sense”.

And yet, you’d be hard pressed to name an actor who’s been mentioned in so many IndieWire stories over the past 25 years. Of course, that says a lot about how this outlet has radically expanded its remit by becoming a website and meeting the demands of digital publishing, but it says even more about the relevance and excitement of Cage in all facets of the American film industry. this duration.

From the explosive highs of his Jerry Bruckheimer joints to the bizarre lows of his debt-mandated DTV mishegoss and the singular arthouse triumphs he continues to do whenever the stars align, Cage has always embraced the extremes of his craft in an age defined by corporate synergy and creative recklessness. The mainstream success he achieved in the late 20th century made him a household name, but Cage’s outsized performances in Hollywood fare like “Ghost Rider” and “National Treasure” only cemented his status of a person who takes the wilderness with him wherever he goes. .

Tom Gormican’s “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent,” in which Cage plays a version (or two) of himself, pays homage to the movie star as an alien artist. The indie meta-comedy riffs on the actor’s blockbusters, but it only has the ability – or the reason – to exist because of his career-long commitment to truly independent cinema, which does not hasn’t wavered since the days of ‘Wild at Heart’ and ‘Kiss of a Vampire’.

As proof, we bring you this decades-spanning list of the 11 greatest indies Nicolas Cage has ever made.

Eric Kohn, Jude Dry, Ryan Lattanzio, and Christian Zilko also contributed to this article.

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