Uncut Gems: Is Adam Sandler Award-Worthy?

Uncut Gems features Adam Sandler as Howard Ratner, a diamond dealer with an acute gambling addiction. Directed by Josh and Benny Safdie, this film has already won the New York Critics Circle Award for Best Director and has countless nominations for other categories such as the 2020 Critics’ Choice Award for Best Actor and the Critics’ Choice Movie Award for Best Picture. 

However, some fans are quite upset that Uncut Gems didn’t make it onto the Oscar nominations and that Sandler was left out as well, but was his performance Oscar-worthy? The subject matter of sports betting may have kept some away, and if you’ve seen the film and are perplexed about some of the intricate plot points and jargon used, visit this site to learn more about the world of sports betting. 

From the start of the movie, the audience is greeted by a black opal, followed by Howard’s colonoscopy process. Frankly, I’d like to say there is a link between a colonoscopy and precious gems, but I’m not sure there is. 

Uncut Gems

Throughout the film, we follow Howard making painstakingly large bets, which ultimately highlight his addiction. Sandler brings his same unique acting style to this one but takes a much more intense approach, reminiscent of The Meyerowitz Stories. 

It’s very clear that Sandler is more than capable of portraying dramatic characters in his recent work. Uncut Gems displays a different side of Sandler, inducing anxiety and tension throughout the film courtesy of the Safdie brothers’ unique direction.

Sandler’s work and success in this film wasn’t solely created all on his own. He had a very strong supporting cast, great directing, solid writing, and a plot that was enjoyable for all. A24, the film’s independent distributor, saw record numbers when Uncut Gems hit the box office, creating a new standard for A24 to try and reproduce. 

What seems rather strange, though, is that the critics (who are usually less enthusiastic) have had a better reaction than audiences. Rotten Tomatoes currently has an audience score of 52 percent. To be fair, most of the audience praised Sandler’s performance but were confused about the plot. 

Confusion and anxiety go hand in hand in this film, however, as Sandler puts on quite the display when broaching the subject of gambling addiction. The way Sandler goes about playing a character who could potentially lose everything but is enthusiastic nonetheless is truly remarkable.

With a refreshing plot point and critical acclaim, fans and critics alike were shocked when Sandler & Uncut Gems received zero Oscar nominations. To be frank, I’m just as confused; Sandler brought his unique dramatic talent, paired it with a strong supporting cast and great directing. 

Truth be told, I think we’re all wondering why Sandler was snubbed by the Academy.

Not The Only One

Of course, countless people get upset when a movie they consider to be great ends up getting snubbed by the Oscars. Even movies like Hustlers starring Jennifer Lopez and Eddie Murphy’s return in Dolemite Is My Name have people ranting about Oscar snubs. 

What the consensus seems to be most upset about isn’t Uncut Gems being snubbed, but Sandler being left out of the Best Actor conversation. Some Academy voters have theorized why Sandler was snubbed. 

Uncut Gems

The first argument being that 2019 was full of competition, a fair point to make considering Ford v Ferrari, The Irishman and Joker all came out this year, leaving Uncut Gems overshadowed by “better” films. 

I don’t consider that to be the case, though, considering the marketing for the film was great, and audiences were excited to see another dramatic film by Sandler. 

One particularly interesting theory is the Academy and their peculiar taste that doesn’t involve films like this. This ideology was confirmed in an interview with Oscar voters. 

Another voter was impressed by Sandler’s performance, but it hadn’t swayed him to forget the bulk of Sandler’s work in so-called “cheesy” and “dumb” Netflix comedies. They went on to describe that the body of work has a lot to do with the process of voting, making it clear that they don’t just judge by the work you put out through the year. 

While I understand how Sandler’s catalog of work might not match up with someone like Joaquin Phoenix, I believe that recently Sandler has shown he has the acting chops to compete with his fellow dramatic actors. 

Although Uncut Gems doesn’t fall into the same category or acclaim as Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, it’s still a very refreshing take on sports betting, a genre of film that only pops up every once in a while, the last good one being Focus in 2015.

Perhaps the Academy just isn’t fond of Sandler, as one voter said that if Sandler pulled out another hit like Uncut Gems, he might have a shot at an Oscar. That’s quite an explanation considering this isn’t Sandler’s first time playing a dramatic character. 

Uncut Gems

I’ve already mentioned The Meyerowitz Stories, but even Punch Drunk Love showcased a dramatic Sandler, and it was notoriously snubbed in 2003. Personally, I believe the real reason Sandler was left out of nominations was a comment he made to Howard Stern, essentially saying if he wasn’t nominated for an Oscar, he was going to make an awful movie that people would waste their money watching. 

Apparently, this joke didn’t sit well with one voter, who thought Sandler was showing blatant “arrogance” and a lack of respect. Sandler hasn’t had the best relationship with the Academy, and this strife has been going on for some time, considering when he was invited to be a member, some voters thought he was “unworthy.”

Oscar-worthy? Absolutely!

Regardless of a personal conflict within the Academy or voters not watching his recent movies, it seems Sandler has been left out again. Maybe he does end up creating a movie so bad just to spite the Academy, or maybe he puts together another strong performance in an effort to make another Oscar push. 

Either way, I feel he’s been unjustifiably left out this year, which is unfortunate because his performance was one of the best of his career and should be recognized by the Academy as such.

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