Watch it on: Hulu, HBO
Blackhat (2015, directed by Michael Mann)
Five years ago, one of the great contemporary directors still working made a globe-trotting cyber thriller starring Thor himself and was completely ignored. Booed by critics and dumped by its studio into the doldrums of January, Blackhat made only a shocking $8 million at the domestic box office. Yet it’s a terrific entry in Michael Mann’s esteemed body of work (which includes other movies, such as Heat, Miami Vice, and Manhunter, that were underrated in their day). Chris Hemsworth plays a hard-bodied hacker who’s released from prison to battle a shadowy online terrorist; like many of Mann’s later films, Blackhat is a story of the analog world’s struggle to confront its digital future, wrapped up in a very masculine action saga. If you can, try to catch the director’s cut, which cleans up some of the film’s dense plotting and airs regularly on FX.
Watch it on: FX
The Box (2009, directed by Richard Kelly)
This is the third film directed by Richard Kelly, a onetime wunderkind who burst onto the scene with the 2001 cult hit Donnie Darko. The Box is also his best, though few have recognized it as such. It was a bomb on release, getting poor reviews and the rare dishonor of an F from CinemaScore. But its wild ambition is second to none, spinning Richard Matheson’s mordant short story “Button, Button” into a paranoid 1970s epic—part domestic drama, part psychological horror, part sci-fi fantasy revolving around a NASA expedition to Mars and magic portals. This movie has short, simple scares that I’ve never forgotten, and a plot convoluted enough to obsess over forever. I live in hope of a fourth film from Kelly.
Watch it on: Vudu, Prime
Constantine (2005, directed by Francis Lawrence)
Fifteen years after its release, this remains one of the best and cleverest comic-book adaptations ever made, and probably the most underrated entry in Keanu Reeves’s cinematic career. This is a horror thriller that dives into biblical fantasy, casting a varied ensemble (Tilda Swinton, Djimon Hounsou, Gavin Rossdale, and Shia LaBeouf) as various angels and demons doing battle in modern-day Los Angeles. Based on Alan Moore’s Vertigo comic Hellblazer, Constantine junks a lot of the established hallmarks of the character John Constantine (he’s supposed to be a witty Brit who looks like Sting), but that doesn’t matter. Reeves’s laconic style is a perfect fit for the cynical antihero, and Rachel Weisz thrives in twin roles as sisters on either side of an infernal crime that Constantine is called to investigate.
Watch it on: DC Universe
The Counselor (2013, directed by Ridley Scott)
Of the seven films made by Ridley Scott in the past decade, none is more critically reviled than The Counselor, a knotty crime drama written by Cormac McCarthy and featuring an all-star ensemble that includes Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem, Michael Fassbender, Penélope Cruz, and Cameron Diaz. Summarizing its noir-ish plot, which revolves around the Juárez, Mexico, drug trade, is impossible, but the film is worth watching simply because there’s nothing like it. McCarthy’s florid dialogue and Scott’s hazy visuals are bewitching, and every actor gives an energetic performance pushed to ridiculous heights (one scene in particular, involving Diaz and a Ferrari, is hypnotically baffling). The Counselor is a dark acquired taste, but a deeply satisfying one.