(Photo by Paramount/courtesy Everett Collection)

All James Cameron Movies Ranked

For James Cameron, it all started with a severed arm and some maggots. He was art director on Roger Corman’s Piranha II: The Spawning and, for one special effect, thought to “motivate” some live maggots into movement in a prosthetic arm by shocking the prop with a live electrical cable. This helped him get promoted to director on Piranha II, setting in motion a career associated with groundbreaking sci-fi and genre movies.

Cameron has long since disavowed his Piranha experience — he was only “director” for less than three weeks and didn’t have access to dailies or the editing room — paving the way to claim The Terminator as his feature debut, which we admit looks slightly better on a resume. And in this story of time-travelin’ cyborgs run amuck, we already see one of Cameron’s core fascinations: the frequently fatal conflict between man and technology, and the way it cuts off our own humanity (ironically told using state-of-the-art special FX), as seen in later movies like T2: Judgment Day, The Abyss, and Avatar. The success of the first Terminator got him into the major studio system with a gig directing Aliens, which also further cemented his reputation of creating hardened female protagonists.

By the ’90s, Cameron had the freedom to indulge in his obsessions, including ocean exploration, which produced Best Picture phenom Titanic (only the highest-grossing movie ever at one point) and two documentaries, Ghosts of the Abyss and Aliens of the Deep. He returned to narrative filmmaking with Avatar (only the highest-grossing movie ever at one point), and though he didn’t release a movie in the 2010s, it’s going to be Avatar that will carry him and us through the 2020s: No less than 4 sequels are planned for that decade.

#9

True Lies (1994)
70%

#9
Adjusted Score: 72.856%
Critics Consensus: If it doesn't reach the heights of director James Cameron's and star Arnold Schwarzenegger's previous collaborations, True Lies still packs enough action and humor into its sometimes absurd plot to entertain.
Synopsis: Borrowing liberally from the French film La Totale, this is an action picture, domestic comedy, and political thriller rolled into... [More]
Directed By: James Cameron, Tony Scott

#8
#8
Adjusted Score: 82.401%
Critics Consensus: The underwater footage is both beautiful and awe-inspiring.
Synopsis: Director James Cameron journeys back to the site of his greatest inspiration--the legendary wreck of the Titanic. With a team... [More]
Directed By: James Cameron

#7

Avatar (2009)
82%

#7
Adjusted Score: 92.093%
Critics Consensus: It might be more impressive on a technical level than as a piece of storytelling, but Avatar reaffirms James Cameron's singular gift for imaginative, absorbing filmmaking.
Synopsis: "Avatar" is the story of an ex-Marine who finds himself thrust into hostilities on an alien planet filled with exotic... [More]
Directed By: James Cameron

#6
#6
Adjusted Score: 85.301%
Critics Consensus: An amazing array of images from beneath the sea.
Synopsis: James Cameron, director, deep ocean adventurer and space exploration visionary, combines his talent and his passions in the digital 3D... [More]

#5

Titanic (1997)
89%

#5
Adjusted Score: 101.713%
Critics Consensus: A mostly unqualified triumph for James Cameron, who offers a dizzying blend of spectacular visuals and old-fashioned melodrama.
Synopsis: This spectacular epic re-creates the ill-fated maiden voyage of the White Star Line's $7.5 million R.M.S Titanic and the tragic... [More]
Directed By: James Cameron

#4

The Abyss (1989)
89%

#4
Adjusted Score: 91.989%
Critics Consensus: The utterly gorgeous special effects frequently overshadow the fact that The Abyss is also a totally gripping, claustrophobic thriller, complete with an interesting crew of characters.
Synopsis: The crew of an experimental, high-tech submersible is called into action to investigate a mysterious nuclear submarine crash. A series... [More]
Directed By: James Cameron

#3
Adjusted Score: 99.265%
Critics Consensus: T2 features thrilling action sequences and eye-popping visual effects, but what takes this sci-fi/ action landmark to the next level is the depth of the human (and cyborg) characters.
Synopsis: A sequel to the sci-fi action thriller that made him and star Arnold Schwarzenegger A-list Hollywood names, writer/director James Cameron... [More]
Directed By: James Cameron

#2

Aliens (1986)
99%

#2
Adjusted Score: 105.867%
Critics Consensus: While Alien was a marvel of slow-building, atmospheric tension, Aliens packs a much more visceral punch, and features a typically strong performance from Sigourney Weaver.
Synopsis: Big-budget special effects, swiftly paced action, and a distinct feminist subtext from writer/director James Cameron turned what should have been... [More]
Directed By: James Cameron

#1

The Terminator (1984)
100%

#1
Adjusted Score: 104.814%
Critics Consensus: With its impressive action sequences, taut economic direction, and relentlessly fast pace, it's clear why The Terminator continues to be an influence on sci-fi and action flicks.
Synopsis: A Cyborg has been sent from the future on a deadly mission, it has been programmed to kill a young... [More]
Directed By: James Cameron

Tag Cloud

politics Summer TCM Creative Arts Emmys Comic Book harry potter TV Land Chilling Adventures of Sabrina batman miniseries social media rotten movies we love Star Trek romance Writers Guild of America Superheroe Family Western unscripted Emmys TCA mockumentary slashers Toys Musical Vudu canceled cooking The CW LGBT Pet Sematary Rocky Reality Competition Spectrum Originals Showtime Calendar game show Paramount travel 71st Emmy Awards A&E Disney video CBS All Access Extras Television Academy mutant technology Rocketman ratings USA movies crime thriller screenings Countdown Amazon Prime Video IFC Films diversity theme song 21st Century Fox dc boxoffice richard e. Grant Logo History Lucasfilm Animation Classic Film cancelled 20th Century Fox Kids & Family RT History Fox News cartoon Women's History Month what to watch Fantasy Drama blockbuster doctor who Martial Arts Film Festival Marathons Lionsgate Cosplay Netflix free movies TV renewals Marvel Television WarnerMedia VICE TBS toy story IFC Elton John talk show OWN cinemax Teen Shudder AMC TCA 2017 Turner Classic Movies PBS Mary Poppins Returns supernatural Film Character Guide strong female leads comic independent The Arrangement Amazon El Rey composers Premiere Dates Nominations Dark Horse Comics Nickelodeon Infographic Columbia Pictures The Purge science fiction Best and Worst APB Mudbound Disney Plus Stephen King Nat Geo blaxploitation thriller New York Comic Con Winners serial killer Holidays Marvel Studios spanish language cancelled TV shows kids MTV Brie Larson werewolf Apple TV+ Apple Universal 24 frames sports Red Carpet Esquire The Walking Dead Acorn TV Mystery Disney streaming service Trivia Comics on TV Watching Series Bravo cops 2016 quibi stand-up comedy disaster cars Ellie Kemper Opinion Awards Election Hallmark Christmas movies Winter TV TruTV SundanceTV south america Schedule dceu Adult Swim TNT DGA sitcom GoT National Geographic FX Super Bowl Paramount Network Grammys revenge psycho NBC golden globes Photos DC Universe docudrama game of thrones 2018 Hulu adventure Hallmark christmas movies GIFs USA Network Spike A24 zero dark thirty Awards Tour CBS Crackle green book Country Black Mirror aliens crime drama FOX Chernobyl natural history elevated horror period drama latino TIFF adaptation television psychological thriller Turner Mary poppins crossover Emmy Nominations Trophy Talk canceled TV shows jamie lee curtis Netflix Christmas movies spain animated BET YouTube binge Quiz Peacock Trailer LGBTQ X-Men 007 2017 cancelled TV series Valentine's Day MCU E! Box Office teaser ESPN dramedy Song of Ice and Fire YouTube Red CW Seed Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt series Comedy Central Rom-Com Polls and Games zombie E3 zombies American Society of Cinematographers Tomatazos Tarantino based on movie Ovation Pop cults space historical drama justice league CNN Crunchyroll DirecTV Reality Cannes comiccon anime Britbox Podcast foreign casting Binge Guide Amazon Prime Arrowverse ABC Family cancelled television Food Network SXSW Sneak Peek Marvel Captain marvel Ghostbusters First Look Disney Channel Sundance singing competition 2019 political drama Starz Masterpiece Certified Fresh 2015 Music spinoff spider-man PaleyFest DC Comics GLAAD San Diego Comic-Con facebook cats spy thriller Sci-Fi BBC America Lifetime Christmas movies Sony Pictures renewed TV shows Holiday SDCC YA robots Anna Paquin HBO Max Comedy medical drama 45 tv talk Warner Bros. Pirates Year in Review FXX indie TLC Sundance Now streaming YouTube Premium ITV war First Reviews Star Wars Epix Pixar Walt Disney Pictures sequel nature Mary Tyler Moore Musicals Freeform Horror Biopics NYCC halloween festivals vampires romantic comedy Video Games Apple TV Plus ghosts book police drama anthology award winner Mindy Kaling crime BBC Shondaland hist Superheroes ABC VH1 children's TV Interview Christmas Tumblr TV versus Heroines dragons CMT DC streaming service hispanic The Witch comics Fall TV witnail finale HBO President Set visit biography Pride Month Oscars Lifetime WGN breaking bad transformers MSNBC true crime Action Thanksgiving Disney+ Disney Plus See It Skip It Syfy RT21 Rock Spring TV Cartoon Network discovery joker