Awards Profile 2019: The Safdie Brothers’ ‘Uncut Gems’

Welcome to the 2019 Awards Profile series, where we talk about films coming to a theater near you in the coming year (at least at this time of writing). The series analyzes the films and their awards season potential, most notably for the Academy Awards, based on the talents attached, filmmakers involved, and story and source material.  Monday through Friday until mid-May, AwardsCircuit will bring you a new and exciting project and discuss its chances for success. If you have a suggestion for a movie we should cover, include it in the comments section below. If you miss a film covered, click on the tag or category for “Awards Profile.”

FILM: “Uncut Gems”

DISTRIBUTOR: None yet
DIRECTOR: Josh Safdie and Benny Safdie
PRODUCERS: Sebastian Bear-McClard, Oscar Boyson, Scott Rudin, and Martin Scorsese
WRITER(S): Ronald Bronstein, Josh Safdie, and Benny Safdie
CAST: Adam Sandler, Pom Klementieff, LaKeith Stanfield, Judd Hirsch, Idina Menzel, Eric Bogosian, and more
SYNOPSISSet in the diamond district of New York City, Howard Ratner, a jewelry store owner and dealer to the rich and famous, must find a way to pay his debts when his merchandise is taken from one of his top sellers and girlfriend. (IMDB)

SCHEDULED RELEASE: Sometime in 2019

POTENTIAL HIGHLIGHTS:

One of these days, Adam Sandler may well catch on with Oscar voters. When he goes serious, he shows some noticeable acting chops. We’ve even seen him get precursor attention from time to time. “Punch-Drunk Love” scored him a Golden Globe nomination, while more recently “The Meyerowitz Stories: New and Selected” got Sandler a Gotham nomination. Now, he returns to the independent scene for “Uncut Gems,” which pairs him with some exciting young filmmakers. To say the least, this will be a far cry from his Netflix comedies. In fact, there’s a chance that this could be his best chance to receive major respect and attention from the Oscars.

“Uncut Gems” teams Sandler with filmmakers Josh Safdie and Benny Safdie, who have been making a name for themselves on the indie scene. A few years pack, they showcased Robert Pattinson in a whole new light with “Good Time,” and now they could do the same with Sandler. An eclectic supporting cast consisting of Judd HirschPom Klementieff, Idina Menzel, LaKeith Stanfield, and more suggests an offbeat crime tale. Depending on how much comedy and drama are mixed in, this could be one of the titles that critics push for awards love in a big way. Sometimes, the Academy even listens. It won’t hurt that Martin Scorsese thinks highly of this one, as he’s one of the film’s producers.

POTENTIAL CHALLENGES:

Despite the Safdie Brothers having a cult following, they’ve never translated to the mainstream yet. While they’ll definitely push Sandler, will it be in a direction that voters respond to? “Good Time” and “Heaven Knows What” featured some great acting and filmmaking, but Oscar completely ignored it. Moreover, most precursors ignored what the Safdies have pitched so far. This makes “Uncut Gems” a longer shot for attention than some of the other 2019 contenders, for sure. It has potential, and a breakout performance from Sandler could go a long way, but the odds are decidedly not in its favor, at least initially. Once the movie gets picked up by a distributor and sets a release date, we might know more. As it stands, it’s an Academy Award hopeful that will be facing an uphill battle. Josh and Benny Safdie have the goods to be nominees one day. So too does Sandler. It’ll just be a question of if voters are ready to seriously consider them or not.

POTENTIAL AWARD CATEGORIES IN PLAY:

  • Motion Picture (Sebastian Bear-McClard, Oscar Boyson, Scott Rudin, and Martin Scorsese)
  • Director (Josh Safdie and Benny Safdie)
  • Actor in a Leading Role (Adam Sandler)
  • Actor in a Supporting Role (Judd Hirsch and/or LaKeith Stanfield)
  • Actress in a Supporting Role (Pom Klementieff and/or Idina Menzel)
  • Original Screenplay (Ronald Bronstein, Josh Safdie, and Benny Safdie)
  • Cinematography (Darius Khondji)
  • Film Editing (To be announced)

POTENTIAL KEY NOTICES FROM OTHER GROUPS

  • Best Feature (Film Independent Spirit Awards): The Spirit Awards could easily look to cite the Safdie Brothers here
  • Best Male Lead (Film Independent Spirit Awards): If this role gets Sandler awards attention, this could be one of the places he even looks to pick up a win

Are you excited or skeptical about Josh and Benny Safdie’s “Uncut Gems?” Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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