Director: James Cameron
Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong, Robert Patrick, Joe Morton, S. Epatha Merkerson
His holier-than-thou public persona might drive us up a wall, and Avatar is still an overrated cross-breed of Dances With Wolves and FernGully, but we've got to hand it to James Cameron: He's the king of sequels. Showing that his extraordinary sequel to Alien, 1986's Aliens (which we'll discuss in a few) was no fluke, Cameron followed up his own sci-fi standout The Terminator with a second round that's much more ostentatious and ultimately superior to its predecessor.
Arnold Schwarzenegger once again plays the mostly silent cyborg sent back from the future, though this time he's a good guy; the villain is a borg that's able to regenerate its human shell (dressed in a cop uniform and played with imposing menace by Robert Patrick) and hell-bent on killing young John Connor (Edward Furlong). Cameron didn't waste a penny of the film's reported $100 million budget (a staggering sum back in '91), packing the visceral T2 with a ridiculous amount of explosions, car wrecks, man-sized robots, and bodily transformations.
Just as audiences emitted collective gasps at the sight of Avatar's groundbreaking visual effects, ticket-buyers back then greeted the best sci-fi sequel ever made (yup, we said it) with similar astonishment. The main difference being that T2 still kicks tremendous amounts of behind 20 years after its release; we're expecting first-time viewers in 2029 to watch Avatar and say, "That shit was actually nominated for Best Picture?"