Still from 'Avatar: The Way of Water'© 20th Century Studios

7 Stunning Movies To Watch If You Loved ‘Avatar: The Way Of Water’

Salva Mubarak
Senior Features Writer

Fans of Avatar have a reason to celebrate. The second part of James Cameron’s fantastical movie series is making its way to the small screen this week. Avatar: The Way of Water (2022) will premiere on Disney+ Hotstar, giving us another chance to lose ourselves in the beautiful world of Pandora.

Cameron has always been an ambitious filmmaker, whether it’s the storytelling or the scale. But with the Avatar series, the director threw the playbook out of the window and created hyperreal yet otherworldly visuals that managed to add another layer to the movie’s narrative. With the second movie in the series, the director managed to expand the universe he had built in the first one to include new characters and even more stunning visuals. It wasn’t a surprise that the budget of the movie ballooned out of proportion and cost him a few hundred million dollars.

But the sheer spectacle of the movie made up for the decade-long break between the two instalments and showed us once again what a cinematic experience could be like if there were no boundations to imagination.

Like the Avatar series, there are several movies that are so visually stunning that they take your breath away. The complex CGI and sweeping cinematography elevate the story and the characters to leave behind memorable movies that we can watch a thousand times.

Here are some of our favourite movies that are stunning like Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water

Life of Pi (2012)

Director Ang Lee’s Life of Pi is one of the few movies that strike the perfect balance between stylised CGI visuals and a compelling story. Based on the Yann Martell novel of the same name, the movie tells the story of a young Indian boy who manages to survive a shipwreck with the help of a small lifeboat. We are taken on an adventure with Pi and his fellow survivor, a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. Lee uses advanced CGI beautifully as a tool to depict the scale of Pi’s tragedy and his solitude in the ocean. One particular scene, with a bioluminescent whale will remind you of the Tulkuns from Avatar: The Way of Water.

Watch it here

Interstellar (2014)

Christopher Nolan’s epic masterpiece set in space is yet another example of how much thought the director puts into delivering the best visual experience to his audience. The story follows a space mission dedicated to finding habitable planets in different galaxies to ensure the survival of the human race. It would be hard to believe but each otherworldly landscape shown on the different planets Cooper and his crew land on is actually a real life location on Earth that Nolan managed to enhance using a little bit of CGI. Despite the grand visuals (the bookcase inside the blackhole is still embedded into our memories), the movie manages to retain its emotional core, much like Cameron’s Avatar series.

Watch it here

Spider-Man Into The Spider-Verse (2018)

Much like how Cameron pushed the envelope with what you can achieve through clever visual effects, this animated movie managed to become the best Marvel movie with its groundbreaking visual style. The superhero series has been rebooted so many times that it became hard to believe how a fresh perspective could be brought to the series. However, the animated movie managed to create a highly original and fresh take on the story by embracing the comic book style and blowing our minds away with the animation. It wasn’t really a surprise that it won the Best Animated Feature award at the Oscars that year. The second part in the series that just released recently is said to be a worthy successor to the first one.

Watch it here

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Stanley Kuberick’s 1968 masterpiece somehow still manages to hold its own amongst sci-fi movies with its stunning visual effects and sheer audacity in storytelling. The movie follows a mission as it sets out to unravel the mystery of a monolith that appeared on the lunar surface. The movie was the pioneer in translating abstract ideas to the cinematic medium through fantastical visuals. Filmmakers continue to get inspired by the movie and Kubrick’s vision. Despite the fact that the movie was released many decades ago, it still is one that should be seen on the big screen. This is why it was rereleased in theatres in 2018 as part of its 50th year celebrations.

Watch it here

Bajirao Mastani (2015)

While on the surface, Avatar and Bajirao Mastani might not have much in common, but deep (deep, deep) underneath all that is the fact that both Cameron and Sanjay Leela Bhansali are known for their dedication to the craft of filmmaking and commitment to deliver a movie that will look like a painting come to life. To be fair, any Bhansali movie could have made its way to the list. But this Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone starrer is special because it’s a landmark film in the filmmaker’s collection. Cinematographer Sudeep Chaterjee, a frequent collaborator of Bhansali, revealed that the director wanted the frames to look like the classic paintings by artists like Raja Ravi Varma and Gaganendra Tagore. It’s safe to say that they have managed it and how!

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The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

Just like Cameron, director Wes Anderson is known for his unique visual style and aesthetic. So much so that he unwittingly sparked a viral TikTok/Instagram Reel trend that had people recreating his characteristic style in different situations. This 2014 movie is one of the most beautiful and stylish movies of all time. Set in the 1930s, the story follows the adventures of the concierge of the titular hotel who gets framed for murder and has to prove his innocence with the help of his new friend, a junior lobby boy named Zero.

Watch it here

Spirited Away (2001)

Easily one of the most beautiful movies from the Japanese animation studio Studio Ghibli, this masterpiece by Hayao Miyakazi uses characteristic Ghibli visual style to transport us to another dimension where spirits reside. Every single frame of the film brims with life and joy and manages to captivate us as we take a journey with 10-year-old Chihiro into this otherworldly realm. The movie made history by becoming the first hand-drawn and non-English language film to win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature film.

Watch it here