Every James Cameron Movie, Ranked From Worst to Best
James Cameron is responsible for two of the highest grossing movies in the history of ever, and for giving us many of our most popular popcorn entertainments. When you're not celebrating "Avatar's" 10th anniversary (happening this December) by watching it for the 50th time, check out our ranking of Cameron's films.
7. 'True Lies' (1994)
Yes, that's Arnold Schwarzenegger -- flying a Harrier jet while using his daughter as a hood ornament -- about to fire a terrorist-laced missile. More movies, nay, all of them, need scenes like this. "True Lies" is the last time Arnie and Cameron worked together. Is it any coincidence that this is also the last, great Schwarzenegger movie?
6. 'Avatar' (2009)
Yeah, we thought that was a real person, too. It's all CG. The highest-grossing movie ever tricked millions of moviegoers with its sophisticated digital effects as it raked in billions. It's a movie about a guy who can't walk but learns how to fly. Who can't get behind the wonder of that?! While love for the film has cooled since its release -- it is nearly the biggest movie ever and NO ONE talks about it -- it's still a thrilling, visual spectacle that delivers Cameron's non-subtle brand of emotional storytelling alongside great set-pieces. Sure, it's "Dances With Wolves" in space -- but when have you ever seen that before Cameron showed it to you?
5. 'The Abyss' (1989)
Cameron's most underrated adventure is also the closest he'll ever get to being classified as Spielberg-ian. Deep beneath the ocean, blue-collar workers discover proof of alien life as a hurricane topside -- and the presence of nukes -- threaten to ruin their first contact. Ed Harris is scary-good as the vulnerable, relatable leader of these roughnecks, which features a rich ensemble of character actors that endured the most grueling of shoots -- which is par for the course when working with Cameron. This film is also one of the first to use early CG, as evidenced by the iconic scene pictured here.
4. 'Titanic' (1997)
Cameron's first (and only) Best Picture winner isn't his best film, but it is one of the most entertaining and iconic blockbusters ever made. Plagued with budget overages and bad pre-release press, "Titanic" weathered it all to tell the tragic romance of Jack and Rose, a story with much better re-play value than that damn Celine Dion song. And it also taught us how to properly hock a loogie.
3. 'Terminator 2: Judgment Day' (1991)
>The movie where Arnuld showed us how to properly rack a shotgun, "T2" changed the way we make blockbusters. From its then-landmark use of CG on the T-1000, to its "bigger is better" production values that don't skimp on character (but pile on a little too much of the sappy), Cameron's last Terminator film as director influenced everything from "Jurassic Park" to, well, pretty much any movie to feature a digital character. So many of your favorite movies owe their existence to "T2," one of the best sequels ever made -- 25 years after its release.
2. 'The Terminator' (1984)
The premise is so brilliant you can't believe it was hiding in plain sight; that no one before Cameron latched on to it. A veteran of a post-apocalyptic future war must travel back in time to save a woman from being killed by a murder-programmed cyborg. That woman has yet to birth the leader of the future's resistance force, but she will, and Skynet's machines must stop it. In terms of plotting and structure, Cameron's script is a Swiss watch -- it's breathlessly paced and effortlessly entertaining, minus the dated 80s production values. "T2" is almost a bigger-budgeted (but less tight) redo of this film -- they share virtually the same climatic car chase that takes them to an industrial warehouse showdown. Of the many (mostly unwanted) installments in this franchise, the best of the bunch is still the one that started it all.
1. 'Aliens' (1986)
You were expecting something else? Writer-director Cameron faced the unenviable task of succeeding Ridley Scott's 1979 classic. He went the action-horror movie route, and created a sequel that is arguably better than the original. And who doesn't love an ol' fashioned brawl between Power Loader and Alien Queen?