(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)
71%

#9
Adjusted Score: 73.964%
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: 82.419%
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: 92.695%
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: 85.388%
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: 101.77%
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: 92.171%
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: 99.168%
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)
97%

#2
Adjusted Score: 104.044%
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: 104.918%
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

Martial Arts 21st Century Fox spy thriller mutant sports 2018 Countdown spinoff SDCC news The Academy YouTube Writers Guild of America halloween Apple TV+ nfl VH1 APB Election Sundance Now Pirates See It Skip It tv talk ESPN Disney Channel Black Mirror 20th Century Fox TV Land Trophy Talk Ellie Kemper psychological thriller Amazon Prime Elton John Cannes Holidays RT History black Schedule RT21 psycho Chernobyl Kids & Family New York Comic Con Sci-Fi Podcast A24 ABC Family romance Universal composers richard e. Grant medical drama 72 Emmy Awards asian-american streaming Spike Watching Series TCA 2017 Opinion PaleyFest serial killer cars best Mindy Kaling mission: impossible Emmys child's play First Reviews Reality ratings Thanksgiving dragons free movies ID Starz Vudu Ovation criterion LGBTQ Marvel Studios Crunchyroll science fiction Sneak Peek sequel Mudbound 2015 Hallmark Christmas movies batman Adult Swim National Geographic stand-up comedy blockbuster YouTube Red cults DC streaming service Lifetime Christmas movies E3 screen actors guild television Fantasy Biopics anthology Mary poppins Drama stoner DC Universe FX on Hulu TCA Winter 2020 space doctor who Binge Guide football Disney Marathons comiccon Paramount Network 2019 History Endgame Mystery 007 Apple TV Plus Rocketman singing competition Best and Worst romantic comedy Tarantino TCA Awards 4/20 scary movies BET Awards golden globes Winners name the review rt archives Classic Film Britbox TCA Valentine's Day anime BAFTA versus The CW rotten movies we love Tomatazos hollywood Certified Fresh USA Esquire TV renewals transformers WarnerMedia strong female leads festivals comic books dceu The Witch Dark Horse Comics DirecTV aliens video Country Academy Awards Discovery Channel Rocky parents biography Ghostbusters critics TIFF Lucasfilm Hallmark Bravo OneApp CMT universal monsters Film VICE indiana jones based on movie foreign Marvel Calendar Box Office Disney+ Disney Plus Musicals cooking USA Network Arrowverse Infographic Star Trek binge hist Nominations IFC Films VOD Pop elevated horror worst movies Super Bowl Lifetime theme song natural history finale harry potter diversity Toys Acorn TV joker period drama sitcom Hulu Amazon Studios jamie lee curtis Awards Tour Red Carpet technology animated cancelled TV series police drama french Year in Review Television Academy PlayStation concert Amazon Prime Video Sony Pictures YouTube Premium game of thrones YA Family Columbia Pictures cancelled TV shows cinemax rotten comic NBC political drama Superheroes talk show Syfy Food Network ITV Netflix historical drama indie Video Games Turner Classic Movies boxoffice OWN robots Black History Month directors Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt zombie chucky politics The Walking Dead stop motion Turner BBC One mockumentary revenge kids Walt Disney Pictures Horror ghosts IFC Winter TV worst dogs sequels twilight facebook quibi TLC Cosplay HBO dc Grammys movie Stephen King BET movies X-Men Logo social media casting NYCC GIFs spanish docudrama Awards San Diego Comic-Con Extras Paramount Avengers WGN El Rey Oscars Anna Paquin canceled TV shows zero dark thirty HBO Max Set visit Sundance TV werewolf American Society of Cinematographers satire classics Trailer discovery Fox Searchlight fresh latino unscripted A&E films venice game show spanish language Star Wars Emmy Nominations FOX Holiday Epix cancelled television deadpool Animation emmy awards disaster Captain marvel LGBT Western Superheroe GoT canceled BBC 2020 Interview series Masterpiece Cartoon Network Comedy Central Tubi a nightmare on elm street TBS archives reboot spain Women's History Month Character Guide Polls and Games crossover green book DGA Disney Plus cops Amazon 45 CBS All Access TruTV Action Hear Us Out CW Seed what to watch Apple festival SXSW Freeform justice league Crackle superhero Fall TV franchise documentary nature teaser Mary Poppins Returns Shudder italian FXX 24 frames FX vampires Brie Larson MCU Comic Book obituary book Television Critics Association ABC Lionsgate Shondaland die hard crime drama crime award winner Travel Channel Rock Photos dramedy Disney streaming service reviews 99% The Purge independent E! adventure cancelled Teen Peacock witnail slashers blaxploitation war scorecard Fox News Baby Yoda Trivia fast and furious zombies MSNBC Nickelodeon Music GLAAD Rom-Com The Arrangement cartoon DC Comics supernatural PBS comedies children's TV MTV james bond TV renewed TV shows japanese AMC BBC America Funimation Film Festival Christmas travel Sundance Tumblr 2017 Pop TV halloween tv CBS comics video on demand australia TNT Nat Geo Summer Reality Competition Spectrum Originals adaptation miniseries Warner Bros. Heroines laika Pet Sematary HBO Go thriller President breaking bad Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Quiz all-time Premiere Dates Comics on TV dark CNN spider-man 71st Emmy Awards Showtime Netflix Christmas movies Pride Month Musical Pixar sag awards Marvel Television remakes cats documentaries Song of Ice and Fire 2016 Creative Arts Emmys toy story crime thriller hispanic First Look Comedy Mary Tyler Moore SundanceTV Spring TV Alien nbcuniversal TCM south america toronto boxing christmas movies true crime screenings