Save for Tom Cruise and maybe Kevin Feige, no name carries more weight in the world of tentpole filmmaking than James Cameron.
In December 2022, more than a decade after the writer/director’s triumphant “Avatar” became the highest grossing movie of all time, Cameron’s sequel and visual effects marvel “Avatar: The Way of Water” provided a massive splash of ticket sales for a drought-ridden box office. It’s now the sixth highest grossing film of all time, and continues to prop up theaters in what IndieWire’s Tom Brueggeman described as a good start to the new year.
That’s standard fare for Cameron, of course. He first made box office history in 1997 with the epic historical fiction romance “Titanic”: a cinematic knockout that ran in theaters for nearly ten months and remains the third highest grossing movie ever made. He won Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Editing at the year’s Academy Awards. From his brilliant spin on Ridley Scott’s “Alien” to the Arnold Schwarzenegger “Terminator” triumphs, Cameron’s filmography is characterized by epic ambition, innovative execution, and sweeping scope.
“When you work with [James Cameron], it’s scary, but it’s also exhilarating,” Sigourney Weaver said in an interview with The Ringer. “You have to bring it. You have to bring your top game.”
In the same interview, “True Lies” actor Tom Arnold said: “Jim Cameron, he’s a rawboned, 6-foot-3 fucking Canadian dude, man. He’s ready to go. And part of the reason for his success is because he is that guy. If he tells [Arnold Schwarzenegger], ‘I want you to go down this escalator, jump over, do that,’ and Arnold looks at it and goes, ‘Boy, I don’t know if I could do it,’ he goes, ‘OK. I’ll do it.’ He’ll do it. There is nothing that he won’t do. And it inspires you.”
Cameron has shared some of his favorite films through interviews over the years, heaping praise on Stanley Kubrick, Steven Spielberg, Rian Johnson, George Lucas, and plenty other cinematic heavyweights. Fom “Wait Until Dark” and “The Wizard of Oz” to “Borat” and “Inception,” these are 16 films James Cameron recommends. Entries are listed in no particular order.