First Quarter Awards | Top 6 Biggest Surprises


Our Spring Movie season awards call continues with our list of the biggest and most pleasant surprises. This list of films and performances were unexpected but memorable delights that didn’t quite make our initial list and are under-the-radar gems that are unfamiliar to the general public. Here is a half-dozen films that you should see:


Amor Cronico

Stevie Wonder once sang, “Music is a world within itself / With a language we all understand.” This film festival favorite tells the story of flamboyant Cuban-born / New York based singer CuCu Diamantes on her tour around Cuba. Produced by Sarah Green (The Tree of Life, Frida) and Grammy award winner Andres Levin, the film interweaves footage of live music performances with a fictional love story narrative. An energetic display of Diamantes’ glamorous performance style with a fresh Latin pop soundtrack and a comical twist, “Amor Cronico” is a unique portrait of a Cuban artist traveling back to her roots. One doesn’t need to understand the language to enjoy this fun, humorous sometimes reflective journey.



Behind the facade of a beautiful urban home, a combination of complacency and bad investments has left power couple Ben and Gail disconnected, resentful and just about broke. When the cash-strapped yuppies fire their teen-aged daughter’s lesbian Mexican nanny, Margarita, they set off a chain of events that lead to her deportation. Nicola Correia Damude shines in the lead role as the uber-handy-Jane-of-all-trades is the emotional mortar that holds this tenuous house of cards together.


Paris Under Watch

Recent events in Boston parallel this French thriller that opens in Paris on the eve of the presidential elections, just after a huge terrorist attack at the Gare Austerlitz. The government accuses Islamists, but a computer hacker who considers himself an anonymous law-upholder carefully studies images of the explosion and tracks down, from a distance, the trio responsible for the crime, in particular a young couple. Using the city’s surveillance cameras, he spies on and manipulates them. In the process, he realizes that the truth can have many faces. Scary claustrophobic story that is an updated version of both The Conversation and Enemy of the State for this generation.

Michael P. Murphy

Murph The Protector

This documentary based on Medal of Honor recipient, Lieutenant Michael Murphy’s entire life of honor, courage and commitment, as told by his friends, family and teammates is an inspirational story that will make you proud of the men and women of our armed forces who protect our freedom. Raised in Patchogue, New York, Murphy attended Penn State University and then joined the U.S. Navy to serve in the SEAL Teams. He gave his life for his men in 2005 and was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 2007. A true gem of a movie that deserves to be seen by a much wider audience that we promise will bring tears to your eyes.


The Story of Lover’s Rock

This wonderful documentary spotlights the musical expression often dubbed ‘romantic reggae’ the uniquely black British sound that developed in the late 70s and 80s against a backdrop of riots, racial tension and sound systems. Lovers Rock allowed young people to experience intimacy and healing through dance- known as ‘scrubbing’- at parties and clubs. This dance provided a coping mechanism for what was happening on the streets. Lovers Rock developed into a successful sound with national UK hits and was influential to British bands (Police, Culture Club, UB40) These influences underline the impact the music was making in bridging the multi-cultural gap that polarized the times. The film sheds light on a forgotten period of British music, social and political history. Musical documentaries have done well over the last several years (Searching for Sugar Man, Standing in the Shadows of Motown) and this one will “rock” audiences’ hearts and souls.


The Bullet Vanishes

One China’s best movies of the year, the follows bullet factory owner Ding (Liu Kai-chi) who intimidates his workers to keep them in line, leading to a public Russian roulette “suicide” of a female worker (Xuxu) accused of stealing a box of bullets. A curse relating to a certain “Phantom Bullet” is found written in red blood on the walls of the factory, though workers are soon ordered to scrub it off. Subsequent deaths from “phantom bullets” which are never found, seemingly vanishing, suggest that the factory has really been cursed. Newly promoted police officer, the slightly eccentric Song Donglu (Ching Wan Lau) and gunman Guo Zhui, “the fastest gun in Tiancheng” (Nicholas Tse) are summoned by the local police head, Jin (Wu Gang), to investigate the peculiar murders. A tremendous mix of strong storytelling, a wonderful script blending with heroic three-dimensional characters sprinkled in with some humor to balance the proceedings and some excellent special effects work equals an unparalleled film experience.