All the "Uncut Gems" Oscar Snubs: An Article Tangentially Related to Personal Finance


Drawing of an Academy Award, also called an Oscar

The night sky will be empty Sunday because all the stars are at the Oscars. Well, not all of them…

Good financial decisions are not always rewarded. 

For example, the Safdie Brothers convinced Adam Sandler to star in their thrilling and anxiety-inducing character piece, “Uncut Gems,” and it has already earned more than double its budget. But did the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences give it the nominations it deserved in recognition of this incredible artistic and financial accomplishment?

No, it did not.

That is why it falls to us to correct the mistake. Also, we’ll be loosely tying it to personal finance advice because they wouldn’t let us write this article otherwise. Let’s being with the first and most obvious snub:

Best Actor: Adam “Sandman” Sandler

Adam Sandler delivers an incredible character study in his portrayal of Howard Ratner, a figure with a pathological inability to quit while he’s ahead. Or rather, very behind. While a pretty revolting individual, Ratner is compelling and feels like a fully realized person rather than a series of arbitrary choices, unlike some other performances we could mention…

Ratner is also a great example of what not to do — financially. Without spoiling too much, he constantly extends old debts on top of new debts, rather than paying off the many people he owes.

Perhaps Ratner should have educated himself about the debt cycle and how best to get out of it. He’s also obsessed with sports-betting, which most financial analysts would recommend minimizing. 

Best Supporting Actor: Eric Bogosian 

Eric Bogosian’s character Arno in “Uncut Gems” may not have many lines, but his face expresses more than words ever could. His constant resigned frustration of Ratner is always apparent, only briefly interrupted by a moment of begrudging respect. And there’s always a palpable sense of hurt and regret in his eyes.

Arno is also an example of what can happen when you lend money to a friend or family member without establishing the necessary boundaries and rules. Even loans between family members should have specific terms that are agreed upon and honored. If only Arno or Howard had read our article on the subject, things may have gone differently. In their defense, the movie is set in 2012 and we first wrote that article in 2017.

Best Supporting Actor: Kevin Garnett

Hey, if “The Irishman’s” Pacino and Pesci can both receive supporting actor nominations, Bogosian and Garnett can both be recognized for “Uncut Gems.” Garnett may be playing himself in the film, but that’s easier said than done. His scenes with Ratner allow us a peek into the latter’s psyche, and Garnett experiences the audience’s journey across a matter of minutes as he realizes just how messed up Ratner is.

Garnett desperately wants the Ethiopian opal, but he understands what is within his budget and what is not. While he could consider financing a big purchase like the opal, he knows it is often better to buy outright if you have the means to do so, rather than risk owing large interest payments on a loan. 

Best Supporting Actress: Julia Fox

Julia Fox delivers an incredible performance in what is apparently her debut role. Her part is vital to the movie, since through her eyes we can see how others might view Ratner in a totally different way. That reminds us that humans are not singular beings, but exist in different ways through the gaze of other people, like different angles on an uncut gem.

Fox’s character goes along with whatever Ratner wants. She would have probably cosigned a lease with him if he asked her to do so, but we feel like his credit probably wouldn’t be good, so that would be a bad choice. Then again, her credit probably isn’t great either. That’s the vibe we get — but maybe we’re wrong. Either way, she should understand the risks that are inherent in cosigning a loan and ask herself the proper questions before she ties her credit fate to anyone else. 

Best Actress: Awkwafina (for “The Farewell”)

There weren’t really any leading actress possibilities in “Uncut Gems,” so instead we’ll use this paragraph to point out that Awkwafina was snubbed by not being nominated for her incredible work in “The Farewell.” This movie also should have been nominated for Best Picture. It carries on the tradition (pun incoming) of “Fiddler on the Roof” and “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” in that it’s funny while showing us how we are all similar, and also challenges the preconceptions around familial obligation and death that you probably brought into the theater with you.

“The Farewell” is also a good reminder to not put off the financial planning aspects around death. This topic can be a downer, but not being prepared for the costs associated with funeral planning and the possible loss of an income earner is a downer on top of a downer. 

Cinematography: Darius Khondji

In his work on “Uncut Gems,” Khondji manages to create a vision of New York City that feels very 2012 and also somehow timeless. The movie simultaneously sparkles like the gems of its name, even as it evokes the grimiest portrayal of NYC that our imaginations could fathom.

Also, uh … movie cameras are expensive, so consider leasing one if you’re making a film and be sure to get insurance

Costume Design: Miyako Bellizzi

Miyako Bellizzi created the iconic Ratner look. Enough said.

Well, we will say one more thing, which is that she probably had to do it affordably, since the movie’s budget wasn’t huge. And it is possible to have a nice wardrobe without throwing your budget away. 

Best Director: The Safdie Brothers

The Safdies had to wait almost a decade to bring Uncut Gems to the screen, but they knew they had to wait for proper funding rather than putting $20 million on their credit cards. 

While putting your debts on a credit card may be possible, it can often be a bad idea

And the Best Picture Award should, of course, go to: Parasite

Sure, Parasite wasn’t snubbed, but a nomination isn’t enough. It should also win Best Picture. But it should also win Best Foreign Film. And not just Best Foreign Film. It should win both. 

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