Few directors could ever match the accomplishments of James Cameron. As a filmmaker, Cameron has been involved in some of the most beloved franchises of all time, has developed ground-breaking filmmaking techniques, has won an Oscar and made some of the biggest movies of all time.
Cameron is one of those directors who gets everyone excited whenever he announces a new film. Though he will be making Avatar movies for the foreseeable future, there are plenty of great James Cameron films to look back on and enjoy. But which of his films is the greatest? Check out James Cameron's best films, according to Rotten Tomatoes.
10 Piranha II: The Spawning: Score 6%
It's surprising to find that such a respected and acclaimed filmmaker as Cameron is capable of making such a poorly-received film. And since this was Cameron's directorial debut, the career he has that followed was even more impressive. Piranha II: The Spawning was the follow-up to the moderately successful Jaws rip-off, this time with mutated piranhas that have somehow learned to fly.
According to critics, there is next to nothing that can be recommended about this film. From the ridiculous premise to the laughable effects, the whole thing was a disaster. Not even Cameron's directing was highlighted as a positive, something that is rare for the rest of his career.
9 True Lies: Score 70%
James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger took a break from collaborating on a certain science-fiction franchise to make this spy action-comedy. Schwarzenegger plays an international spy who keeps his world-saving career a secret from his wife (Jamie Lee Curtis). But he finds himself faced with marital problems just as a new world-ending threat emerges.
Though critics admitted that True Lies falls short of Cameron's other collaborations with Schwarzenegger, there was a lot of fun to have with the film. The leads were praised for their comedic performances and the action was suitably thrilling to make this an enjoyable ride.
8 Ghosts Of The Abyss: Score 80%
Cameron has a deep passion and obsession with exploring the mysteries of the ocean and is particularly interested in the Titanic which still sits at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. This documentary chronicles Cameron and actor Bill Paxton joining a group of scientists to dive into the ocean depths and explore the historic site of the shipwreck.
Though the film is basically a home video of Cameron's insane and dangerous hobbies, most critics agreed that it was a spell-binding journey nonetheless. The IMAX format and the underwater sequences were pointed to as being beautiful and awe-inspiring.
7 Avatar: Score 82%
After already claiming the highest-grossing film of all time, Cameron did the unthinkable and bested his own accomplishment with this science-fiction epic. Avatar tells the story of a soldier who is chosen for a mission to infiltrate the alien species of Pandora but soon finds himself drawn to their way of life and their people.
Critics didn't find the storytelling elements of the film to be very ground-breaking, but the visual effects that told the story were mind-blowing. The film showed a kind of filmmaking that had never been seen before and it further cemented Cameron as a brilliant and visionary director unlike any other.
6 Aliens Of The Deep: Score 84%
Cameron returned to his obsession with the ocean with another IMAX documentary. This time, Cameron was joined by a group of underwater explorers and state-of-the-art underwater submersibles to journey to the unexplored depths of the ocean and encounter all the amazing and unique life that lives below.
Like Ghosts of the Abyss, this documentary is light on story, but critics found that the underwater sequences were worth it. Cameron is in explorer mode as well as filmmaker mode, capturing some truly amazing images and getting unbelievable footage from the deep.
5 Titanic: Score 89%
Though Titanic has some vocal critics, there is no denying it is one of Cameron's most beloved films. The epic romance stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet as two people from different classes who meet and fall in love aboard the doomed ocean liner, Titanic.
Many critics also pointed at the cliched script and cheesy dialogue as points against the film, but the epic nature of the film largely excused those faults. They praised Cameron again for creating a dazzling visual journey with intense and heartbreaking sequences and a genuinely moving love story at its center.
4 The Abyss: 89%
Cameron's fascination with the depths of the ocean might have started here, with The Abyss. The film stars Ed Harris and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as the leaders of a diving team who are escorting military operatives to a sunken submarine on the ocean floor. But their mission becomes more dangerous when they discover alien life down in the deep.
Critics praised The Abyss as one of Cameron's more adult films, dealing with complex and compelling ideas. Of course, the amazing visual effects that were far ahead of their time were also pointed to as a major highlight for the film.
3 Terminator 2: Judgment Day: Score 93%
Cameron returned to the franchise that helped to launch his career with one of the most inventive and ground-breaking sequels ever made. Schwarzenegger returns as the unstoppable cyborg, now reprogramed to protect a teenage John Connor and his mother Sarah from a more advanced Terminator.
Cameron once again thrilled audiences with his eye-popping visuals and never-before-seen special effects. The action sequences were also praised as a huge step up from the smaller original film. But most critics pointed to the surprisingly solid character moments as the thing that really elevates the film.
2 Aliens: Score 99%
Alien was a hugely popular science-fiction thriller that helped make Ridley Scott one of the most sought-after directors around. Cameron stepped up for the sequel which finds Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) waking up years after the events of the first film and joining a group of mercenaries to revisit the original planet where the deadly alien was first found.
Aliens was acknowledged to have a different feel than its predecessor, but critics embraced the more action-oriented take on the story. The critics loved the tension-filled adventure filled with fun and thrilling action sequences. The memorable characters and Weaver's commanding performance made this a highly entertaining sequel that lived up to the brilliance of the first film.
1 The Terminator: Score 100%
Though Cameron's first film was certainly not a success, he really made a name for himself with his second feature. The Terminator is a science-fiction thriller that introduces Schwarzenegger's T-800, a killer cyborg sent from the future to kill Sarah Conner (Linda Hamilton) before she gives birth to the leader of the human resistance.
Though a relatively small-scale film, critics acknowledged Cameron's ability to create a huge and engrossing feel to the film. The thrilling action sequences were highlighted as was Cameron's clever and inventive script. The movie also established Schwarzenegger as an unforgettable action hero.