Northwest Film Forum Year-End List 2017: Vivian Hua’s Top 5 Releases Which Might Have Been Better with Nic Cage as the Lead

December 18, 2017

While crafting this list, I came to realize: there are many ways in which something can be couched as “better”. Does Nicolas Cage make Movie A “better” because Movie A sucks, or because the amusement found in transposing his face or voice atop another is so powerful that the substitution transcends the existence of Movie A itself, to simply live, untouchable, in the pure state of “better”?

This, my friends, is what I wake up contemplating at 5:39am, and this, my friends, is the power of the Nick Cage — our favorite castle-buying, bankruptcy-filing A-list and simultaneously D-list actor of my dreams. No, I mean, literally, of my dreams. I just woke up at 5:39am thinking about how to justify #1 to NWFF Programs and Marketing Coordinator Paul Siple, who absolutely adores it. So here goes.

5. Runner-Up Duo: Lady Bird & Beauty and the Beast

By itself, each of these might not be enough; cobbled together, though, they form a strong contender:

  • Lady Bird: As described by Director of Operations, Chris Day, it would be a “Coming of Cage” film…
  • Beauty and the Beast: The dilemma here is: would Nic Cage play a better Beauty or a better Beast? Hard to say.

Photo Credit: Jen Lewis

4. A Dog's Purpose

Every time I passed gigantic billboards for A Dog’s Purpose in LA, I laughed it off to myself, but I never bothered to find out what it was about… until now.

Summary: dog gets adopted by owner, the two form an inseparable bond, and dog finds his life’s work is to serve and befriend man. Dog must die prematurely and is sad — for a while — until he is reborn as a young sprite, off to please and serve another human…!!!

Reincarnation, soul journeys, and seeking out one’s life purpose?!! Some of my favorite themes just got wrapped up in dog form. Is this my new favorite film? Probably not. But possibly yes? Try just enjoying Nicolas Cage subbed in for doggo.

Something like this:

(Really, though, is a dog’s soul/sole purpose to serve man as companion…? Or are we just a bunch of egotistical assholes playing God and demanding worship when we make films like this? Knowing us, likely the latter.)

3. Victoria & Abdul

Nicolas Cage, as the Queen of England — best friends with an Indian servant, in a role that gives him space to be both tender and cantankerous. A natural spiritual body swap.

(Just imagine him playing THIS ROLE using this British accent from National Treasure…)

2. Wonder Woman

I yearned to buy into the hype of Wonder Woman, in part because I was excited it was the “Highest-Grossing Live-Action Female-Directed Film in the World“, and in part because I wanted to support something that doesn’t hypersexualize female superheroes. Plus, it empowers Amazons, and we can all agree they are #helladope.

The problem is: the film is NOT good, people — and that’s coming from someone who truly appreciates a good comic book movie!

Maybe one can consider this “good” by DC standards, but we’re operating on Marvel domination standards now, aren’t we?

(Apologies that the man-ness of Nicolas Cage conceptually shatters the purity of an all-powerful, all-female Amazon dominion — but DC could use some help.)

Video Credit: Jordan Becke

1. The Shape of Water

You know when sometimes your friends are really goo-goo-ga-ga about something, and they’re all smiles and good cheer, spouting off hyperboles about how extraordinary something is, and you find yourself wishing you could fake excitement better in that moment, but instead, your mouth is moving without your permission, and you’re saying things that you instantly regret because you now your naysaying is buzzkill pooping on their parade?

Yeah, that was me, talking to everyone about The Shape of Water. I’m cynical for thinking a romance with a fish-man looked hella terrible and cringe-worthingly cheesy, and I didn’t even know it! So for a month, there I was: just pooping, pooping away, on everyone’s poopy parades.

Now that I’ve seen it, though, I must admit there is enough camp, brutality, excellent production design, and Michael Shannon to offset the film’s more cringe-worthy fantastical moments — but I still hold fast to the opinion that Nicolas Cage as amphibian man could be MORE amusing.

But then I thought we could do it one better…


Video Credits: Jordan Becke

About Vivian Hua

About Vivian Hua

Design Lead
vivian (at)

Vivian Hua heads up the Design department at Northwest Film Forum, and has been integral in leading the organization’s 2017 rebranding efforts. She is a writer, filmmaker, and organizer who first began working with NWFF as the Co-Founder of the national film and civil rights discussion series, The Seventh Art Stand. She has been the Editor-in-Chief of the socially conscious arts publication, REDEFINE, since 2004, and much of her work unifies her interest in the metaphysical with her belief that art can positively transform the self and society. She is currently working on a documentary about a former coal mining down in rural Appalachian Ohio, as well as touring her anti-Islamophobia narrative short film, Searching Skies.

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