I’ve watched nearly 5000 movies, spent four years in film school, and yet, my most-watched actor of all-time is Nicolas Cage.
According to the stats on Letterboxd, the site for film (and list) obsessives, I have seen 54 films starring Nicolas Cage. That’s over half of his entire filmography.
The “most watched” stat is one of the features that comes with Letterboxd’s yearly paid memberships (starting at $19 US), and well worth the cash if you need to know what movie you watch most frequently (John Butler’s Irish comedy “The Stag”), who has produced most of the films you’ve watched (Harvey Weinstein. Ugh.), or how many subtitled Danish dramas you’ve seen (49).
So what do you do when you find out Nicolas Cage is your most-watched actor of all time, and not someone like Meryl Streep (who you’ve seen in 39 things)? Or how even that teenage obsession that led you to discover all of Christian Slater’s filmography only counts for 40 films?
My first reaction was, “of course Nicolas Cage is my number one”. Then I had to dig in to see how it happened.
I was a teenager when Cage was cool, first embracing his action-guy persona. 15-year-old me watched Con Air and Face/Off and The Rock a lot. I cried during City Of Angels (which also led me to Wings Of Desire so not all was lost), discovered Valley Girl when CityTV used to show blocks of old movies every night, and believed Trapped In Paradise is one of the greatest Christmas movies of all-time (still true). I saw Bringing Out The Dead in theatres twice, thought Snake Eyes was cool, watched 8MM on a date, and did a class project on Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.
I long defended Cage with, “well he has an Oscar,” pointing to Leaving Las Vegas or later, Adaptation, as proof he can act when he feels like it.
Eventually, Cage took on new meaning thanks to memes and an increasingly erratic choice of movie roles, but I kept watching.
I saw Mandy because it looked insane. I watched Frozen Ground because Netflix suggested I do so. I saw Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance because it was playing non-stop on Spike TV. I embraced Nicolas Cage more than ever before because the algorithm of Letterboxd convinced me I was heading towards some monumental achievement in which I become a preeminent Cage expert from the comfort of my couch.
For Letterboxd friends and movie lovers, it has become a point of discussion – Is the person you think is your most-watched actor of all time really your number one? Is your number one in a precarious position (I see you jockeying for the number two spot, Ewan McGregor and Liam Neeson)? How many movies featuring one person do you need to watch to have them become your most-watched actor of all time – 10? 20? 55?
All I know is this: there are 35 Nicolas Cage movies I still need to see.
What’s your favourite Cage film? How many do you have to catch up on? Let us know in the FB comments below.