27 essential films from Canadian directors


Aliens (1986)

Aliens (1986) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers

With Aliens, writer-director James Cameron faced the unenviable task of succeeding Ridley Scott’s 1979 classic. By going the action-horror movie route with the return of Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver)—armed this time with Colonial Marines like Apone (Al Matthews), Hicks (Michael Biehn), Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein), and Hudson (the late Bill Paxton)—Cameron created a genre-defining sequel that is arguably better than the original. And who doesn’t love an ol’ fashioned, practical effects brawl between Ripley’s Power Loader and the Alien Queen?


Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

Terminator 2 RARE 35mm Teaser Trailer | Arnold Schwarzenegger T2

The movie that proved James Cameron is the living manifestation of the phrase “go big or go home,” Terminator 2 changed the way we make blockbusters. From its then-landmark use of CG on the liquid metal T-1000, to its “bigger is better” production values that don’t skimp on character, 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 blockbusters owe their existence to T2—a modern classic that still holds up more than 30 years later.


Titanic (1997)

Titanic | #TBT Trailer | 20th Century FOX

Cameron’s first (and only) Best Picture winner is a staggering achievement in populist filmmaking and one of the last blockbusters to rely on practical sets and in-camera effects before Hollywood was consumed by the green screen revolution. Plagued with budget overages and bad pre-release press, Titanic weathered it all to tell a tragic “Romeo & Juliet”-esque romance aboard the sinking ship. The end result came with a much better replay value than that damn Celine Dion song. And it also taught us how to properly hock a loogie.


Avatar (2009)

Avatar (2009) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers

The highest-grossing movie of all time tricked millions of moviegoers with its sophisticated digital effects as it raked in billions. It’s a movie about a guy, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), who can’t walk but learns how to fly—who can’t get behind the wonder of that?! While love for Avatar cooled prior to the release of its successful sequel, The Way Of Water, Cameron’s sci-fi epic is still a thrilling, visual spectacle that delivers Cameron’s non-subtle brand of emotional storytelling alongside great set-pieces and timeless commentary about environmental conservationism. Sure, it’s Dances With Wolves in space—but when have you ever seen that before Cameron showed it to you?

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