Such is the case with "The Lives of Others." I have no connection with this movie and saw it at a Spirit Awards screening knowing nothing about it. I left mesmerized, and judging from the ladies' room conversation, others in the audience felt the same way. Researching afterward, I found the movie won many awards in Europe and was also a foreign film Oscar nominee. It ended up being far and away my first choice for Spirit Best Foreign Film, among the 4 entries I saw (I missed "Chronicle of an Escape").
After raving about the movie to someone who lives near a theater where it's playing ("Take a break and go see it NOW!"), he went after his other friend wanted to go. Afterward, he IM'ed, "I *loved* 'The Lives of Others.' Loved, loved, loved, it." I felt validated.
I really hope "Lives" wins the Oscar over "Pan's Labyrinth." The latter is not bad and I voted it Spirit Best Feature in a weak field. But rarely has a movie grabbed me like "Lives," despite its being in German with subtitles. It is that good.