The 2020 Oscar nominations were announced yesterday and, well, the Academy has made their typical missteps this year.
Lack of diversity in categorical nominations rounds out the list, yet again, but a most shocking diss is the lack of any nods the the insatiable Uncut Gems.
Personally, I went into Uncut Gems blind. I didn’t read the film synopsis. I didn’t read any of the more thorough reviews. The only thing I knew about it was that Adam Sandler was incredible and that this performance would undoubtedly toss him into the hat for a well-deserved, long-overdue Oscar.
And then it didn’t.
So here are four simple reasons why Uncut Gems deserves the Oscar nominations it didn’t get:
1. Adam Sandler's Performance
Two words: holy shit. That certainly sums up Sandler’s performance as Howard Ratner, Jewish-American, Diamond District jeweler with an ultimately devastating sports gambling problem. The neurotic, temperamental performance was something we haven’t seen from Sandler before, but it’s certainly something we deserved. It was incredible to marvel at his ability to “get there” and embody the drama of the character so well. A far cry from the slapstick screen-time we’re used to from him.
2. The Camera Work
Maybe this is more technical than the every day moviegoer may be familiar with, but the style in which this film was shot is a breathtaking feat of visual art. There were so many scenes, primarily in the shop, that were riddled with long-running, tracking shots that manage not to make you wanna hurl. It’s a challenging, practical technique to choreograph, direct, and execute shots like this that my mouth was agape whenever they appeared on screen.
3. The Color Grading
Playing off of the impressive feat of the camera work is the color grading of the movie. There was sheer mastery at play in the film’s ability to compliment the emotion of the scene’s dialogue and wardrobe with the coloring. It was gritty, dark, moody and dramatic where it needed to be. It was a visual through-line that would otherwise go unnoticed if not for the well-rounded nature of each scene. You can tell there was great care and attention to detail paid to every single shot.
4. The Script
The story was simple. The script was phenomenal. In filmmaking, it takes two key ingredients to make a story come to life: a great script and great talent to perform the script. The cast took this one and ran with it. It’s a beast to find the perfect combination of both, but the writers and casting director truly nailed it here. In an interview with Conan O’Brien, Sandler shared that the Safdie brothers actually shopped the project to his agent twice before finally accepting it on the stereotypically charming third try.