is the cornerstone of Josh and Benny Safdie’s (Good Time) forthcoming A24 crime thriller Uncut Gems, and judging by today’s first trailer for the film, the Oscar buzz swirling around the actor’s performance is entirely legitimate. Sandler is electric, a charming and roguish presence who spends the entire two-minute clip riding the razor’s edge of ruin.
Sandler stars as Howard Ratner, a New York City jeweler always on the lookout for the next big score. After he makes a series of high-stakes bets that could lead to the windfall of a lifetime, Howard is forced to perform a precarious high-wire act, balancing business, family and encroaching adversaries on all sides in his relentless pursuit of the ultimate win.
Part of what Sandler is playing so well here is Howard’s mystery—it’s not quite clear if he has some grand master plan he’s keeping close to his chest, or if he’s just flying by the seat of his pants. After he places a big bet on the Boston Celtics—future NBA Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett here makes his (credited) feature film debut as himself—Howard’s bookie tells him, “That’s the dumbest fucking bet I ever heard of,” but Howard just grins widely, insisting, “I disagree!”
Howard soon ends up face to face with Garnett, with Lakeith Stanfield starring as a member of the Celtic’s crew. Meanwhile, Howard is getting in over his head on multiple fronts, making bets all over town on Arno’s (Eric Bogosian) dime, imploring his partner (Idina Menzel) to give him another chance after he cheated on her, staring down another woman (Julia Fox) in a club while The Weeknd performs, and getting punched in the face in public so hard, it knocks the film’s audio out.
Uncut Gems’ draw, of course, is finding out how—or if, having seen the Safdies’ 2017 breakout Good Time—Howard is able to finesse his way out of these compounding jams. We wouldn’t dare bet against him, but even if he crashes and burns, it will clearly be a blast just to watch him work his magic along the way (“I never resurfaced anything!” might be the line reading of the year).
Uncut Gems opens in select theaters Dec. 13 before going wide on Christmas Day, Dec. 25. The Safdies direct from a script they wrote alongside Ronald Bronstein. Judd Hirsch also stars. Not to be overlooked, either, is Daniel Lopatin, aka Oneohtrix Point Never, who handles Uncut Gems’ score (another highlight of the trailer), reuniting him with the Safdies after Good Time.
Feast your eyes on the Uncut Gems trailer and poster below.