The Canadian director beat Steven Spielberg, Leonardo DiCaprio and Christopher Nolan in the list by the Guardian newspaper`s Film & Music supplement, which proclaimed him the most influential man in the movie world thanks to `Titanic` and `Avatar`.
It said: "Cameron occupies the top two spots in the list of the highest grossing movies of all time, with `Titanic` (worldwide gross: $1.8 billion) second only to `Avatar` ($2.7 billion). Those figures are so high that it seems scarcely worth mentioning that other of his films, `Terminator 2: Judgement Day`, stands in the lower reaches of the top 100 with takings of over $519 million; loose change, really."
Discussing Spielberg, who entered the poll at number two - the panel highlighted he was an "undisputed giant of cinema" but noted critics had said he had created "amusement park movies" over classic American cinema.
The list - created by experts including the Guardian`s film editor Andrew Pulvor, studio executive Colin Vaines and former artistic director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival Hannah McGill - also highlighted the importance of Brad Pitt, Quentin Tarantino and George Clooney in its top 10.
`Star Trek` director J. J. Abrams was placed at 13, with the panel noting his importance in "nerd culture", while Ridley Scott - who made number 15 - was said to have his "glory days behind him".
Angelina Jolie was the highest ranked woman in the list at number 18, while chief executive of Paramount Studios Brad Grey and Martin Scorsese were also given spots in the top 20.
Other notable entries in the top 100 include British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen at number 26, `Prince of Persia` producer Jerry Bruckheimer at number 45 and `Kick-Ass` screenwriter Jane Goldman at number 96.