For-Real For-Real Opinion: Why Annie Eyre, Meg Matthais, and The Academy are Wrong about Uncut Gems not Deserving All of Your Money and Praise
Image: the Sandman thinking “Where the fuck is my Oscar nom, Annie and Meg?”
This J-Term, I learned that veganism is dead. Folks, I got some beef.
I recently watched Uncut Gems, A-24’s most recent piece of should-be Oscars fodder. It was the interim period between Christmas and New Years. Days lost meaning. Food was handed to me for free by relatives I didn’t recognize. I spent time lounging from cozy piece of furniture to cozy piece of furniture. I needed something to tether me back to reality. I needed the cold blood of anxiety, stress, and fear. Enter the movie with the seventh highest F-word count in film history. Enter the Sandman rubbing his greasy fingers over ugly rocks. Enter Uncut Gems.
Uncut Gems is a triumph. A product of controlled chaos: the overlapping dialogue as Mentos, the piercing portrait shots as Coca-Cola.
And here’s the beef: no one liked it. Not my editor, not my general manager, and not the Academy. Not many people liked this movie, which is why I am writing this review. I do not understand how this movie can be anything but loved.
True story: as I entered the theater to see Gems with a friend, the ticket-ripper warned us that a woman had to leave the most recent showing early due to “sweaty palms.” Between performances from Kevin Garnett, the Weeknd, Julia Fox, and Adam Sandler, this movie has enough star power to skim the ocean of Awards Shows on momentum alone.
Toss it all aside. The performances, the shots, the direction. The “it-factor” here is the writer/director duo Safdie brother’s near-clinical diagnosis of two emotions: stress and anxiety. How this movie was not nominated for best original screenplay is an issue of nothing less than social justice. On ideas alone, this movie will take a viewer, put them in an oven, and turn up the heat by exponents.
This movie is not like other “downer” films. It’s not a slow burn, like Marriage Story. It’s not artistic, like The Lighthouse or Midsommar. It’s an eyes shut, fingers-in-ears, kind of “Oh God oh God” pulse pounder that makes you hate Adam Sander’s character, Howard Ratner. The movie asks, “How can we punish deceit and greed?” It answers by telling protagonist “Howie” to dig a hole, both financially and psychosocially, until he finds a ladder.
My editor Annie Eyre and general manager Meg Matthais did not like Uncut Gems. They are not wrong in their arguments: the plot is swiss cheese, the language is gratuitous, and the ending is cheating. But I really liked this movie. It’s thrilling, it’s hard, and, for someone with Howie-like tendencies, it’s a living parable.
Joker or The Irishman or Once Upon…Hollywood is going to win best picture, and that breaks my heart. This movie has more in it its opening scene than all of the above’s eight+ hours of runtime. Gems deserves at least these nominations: Adam Sandler for Best Lead Actor, Julia Fox for Best Supporting Actress, and the Safdies for Best Original Screenplay.
Lastly, the Golden Globes are an excessively lavish way to give out gold, drink champagne, and waste money; they should be terminated. Thank you.
Rating: 400 Fuck Bombs out of 408 Fuck Bombs (https://www.slashfilm.com/uncut-gems-f-word/)