It's that time of year again - for the next six excruciating weeks, film pundits will have nothing better to do than bitch about how their favourite film of the year didn't get the Oscar nominations it deserves, while whoever moderates IMDb heads towards a nervous breakdown. There's an easy way to solve this, and he's called Nicolas.
With scant regard to due journalistic process, the merits of the films involved or the feelings of their respective creators, I present ten films that are not only much better than the ones up for Oscars, but also star Nicolas Cage. Priorities.
For Philomena, read: The Weather Man
If you’re looking for veteran British actors to play absent, ailing and vaguely repentant parents, Judi Dench is one of the best names around. But not the best. For no reason anyone has ever been able to fathom, The Weather Man stars Michael Caine as Nic’s distant and cancer-ridden father, whose story plays out against the background of Nic’s genuinely inexplicable fondness for archery and the unfortunate fact that his daughter is hella fat. At one point there’s a living funeral for nearly-dead-Michael-Caine, at which Nic nearly shoots the man who’s cuckolded him. It’s boss, and there’s not a nun in sight.
For Blue Jasmine, read: Drive Angry
Poor Cate Blanchett, she feels like she’s lost everything. Why don’t you try being an undead criminal who’s burst out of hell to save his granddaughter from Satanists, Cate? (You’d think Nic’s character be mostly down with Satanists, being in hell and that). One question: does Nebraska contain the line “I never disrobe before a gunfight”?
Case closed. Woody Allen couldn’t be trusted to make a film with a preteen girl in it, anyway, so Drive Angry wins by default.
#8 – For The Wolf of Wall Street, read: Vampire’s Kiss
It’s all very well being a driven and slightly unhinged businessman, Leo, but have you tried being a driven and slightly unhinged businessman WHO ALSO THINKS HE’S A VAMPIRE? Between The Godfather, Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Vampire’s Kiss, the Coppola family (Francis is Nic’s uncle, you know) pre-emptively trounced everything about The Wolf of Wall Street in one deliciously slow, twenty-year smackdown. You might have noticed at this point that I'm sort of assuming Marty Scorsese meant to put in a vampire bit, and you’d be right.
#7 – For Captain Phillips, read: Face/Off
The thing about whole films on boats is that they’re not nearly as good as films not on boats that then have an abrupt speedboat chase at the end. Not for the first time, I desperately wish Nic had been cast in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise (there’s still time, Bruckheimer!) so I could really hammer the Nic-is-best-at-pirates thing home, but you know he would be. Ain’t no Somalian in a little two-stroke canoe thing catching up to Nic/John Travolta; not that they’d want to. Not even I know whether they’d be told to “RESPECT MY EYES AS YOU’D RESPECT ME” or given a Scientology leaflet.
#6 – For Nebraska, read: The Wicker Man
Oh, Alexander Payne, always writing your lovely lyrical road movies. What’s that, this one’s about a father and his child rebuilding their relationship? Shame it doesn’t feature the child being part of what is essentially a cross between yoni-centric Puritanism, bloody Wicca and a honey fan club. Does Oscar nominee Bruce Dern lamp a woman who looks like Kathy Bates, and then lamp another woman while dressed as a bear, Alexander Payne? Does he bollocks.
#5 – For Her, read: Astro Boy
As Google continues its unethical experiments on the thin dividing line between human and machine intelligence, I suspect we’ll see more films along the lines of Her – stories that explore the difference between organic and synthetic sentience, and wonder whether it’s a boundary that can ever be crossed. Her does this, yes, but it’s far short of the astro(!)nomic brilliance of Astro Boy, in which Nic’s animated scientist character blithely builds a flying robot version of his son after said sprog is disintegrated by an evil robot. Plus I still hate Scarlett Johansson for what she did to lovely gay Ryan Reynolds.
#4 – For Dallas Buyers’ Club, read: Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans
Drug films are ten-a-penny, which is why it’s so important to make sure Werner Herzog directs yours. I don’t have any particular beef with Dallas Buyers’ Club, but it’s hard to assess just how much better it would have been if it had contained any of the following: Xzibit (or, for preference, Tim Westwood), Val Kilmer, or Matthew McConaughey’s “lucky crack pipe”. You know he’s got one.
#3 – For American Hustle, read: Matchstick Men
Despite its astonishing ten nominations, the consensus from everyone I’ve spoken to about American Hustle is that it’s just a symphony of cons, wigs and a pervasive feeling that you’re in Grand Theft Auto. Want to see conning done properly? Head no further than Matchstick Men, which takes two things that everyone hates – grifters and OCD – and mashes them together into an absolute symphony of excellence. Which – and I really feel this is important – contains absolutely no Jeremy Renner.
#2 – For 12 Years a Slave, read: Lord of War
Slavery is pretty bad, sure, but has Steve McQueen ever confronted the sheer horror of spending two hours in the company of a coked-up Jared Leto? In a sort of made-up Liberia? With STDs literally dripping off his gold AK47? I thought not. Chiwetel Ejiofor can strain against his chains all he wants, but spending twelve years in involuntary bondage would be a picnic compared to pretending that you feel threatened by Ethan Hawke.
#1 – For Gravity, read: Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
Boo hoo, Sandra Bullock. You’re all alone in space? Johnny Blaze is all alone in a shapeless hinterland between hell and earth, AND his head keeps catching on fire. Come talk to us when you’ve vanquished some aliens with the Penitent Stare, or at the VERY LEAST hit someone with a chain. Oh, there’s nobody to hit with a chain because you’re all alone in space? Too bad. He’s not going to be happy about that stunt with the fire extinguisher, by the way – that’d be like if someone came near you with an Overgrown Rom-Com Twerp Repellent. You feel us?
John is a writer and the editor of Best For Film. Follow John on Twitter, @JM_Underwood and Best For Film, @BestForFilm.