(Photo by A24 / courtesy Everett Collection)

20 Movies To Watch If You Loved Uncut Gems

Uncut Gems: Critics loved it. Adventurous audiences loved it. Even the Academy…Well, they probably did, but not enough to get Adam Sandler an Oscar nomination. If you got mauled by the relentless, noisy, vice-tightening style — and loved every second of it — and you’re looking for more movies like Uncut Gems, we’ve got a spread of 20 for you to challenge and throttle the senses.

Uncut Gems was directed by Josh and Benny Safdie, two brothers who’ve honed their intimate filmmaking over several features. They really gained traction with heroin drama Heaven Knows What, and 2017’s Good Time, starring Robert Pattinson trapped in a similar anxiety-inducing trip as the one Sandler’s unscrupulous jeweler, Howard, goes on in Uncut Gems. Howard is largely driven by his addiction to high-stakes gambling, a potentially lethal path to go down also seen in Rounders, The Gambler, and Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels.

The fashionable hell Howard has created for himself invites many players of the criminal world in, and Uncut Gems is in many ways that classic kind of thriller where a small player cobbles together a risky plan to bet against the underworld, hoping for that big score. Some of the best that this grim genre has to offer: The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, The Pope of Greenwich Village, The Friends of Eddie Coyle, Thief (if you can’t find this, try Collateral, another Michael Mann nocturnal classic), and Sidney Lumet’s final film, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead. Conversely, The Long Good Friday and Nicolas Winding Refn’s Pusher III: I’m the Angel of Death (you can generally watch this without having seen the other Pushers) are from the kingpin’s perspective, which show that when you know everybody, everybody’s potentially out to kill you.

Of course, plenty of Uncut Gems fans admire the nerve-wracking pace, where problems just pile up one after the other, frequently because characters just can’t get out of their own way. If you’re looking for more of that, seek out Dog Day Afternoon, Victoria (an after-hours thriller legitimately shot in one take), Running Scared (a fan favorite with Paul Walker), Whiplash, and Run Lola Run.

Howard is arguably Sandler’s most memorable character ever: A man in deep agitation, both financial and existential in nature. You can find more deep character work from the likes of Dustin Hoffman in Straight Time, about a thief who struggles to abide by society’s pecking order after release from jail. Or Nicolas Cage in Martin Scorsese’s Bringing Out the Dead as a burned-out philosophical paramedic who red-eyes across multiple New York shifts. And Harvey Keitel in Bad Lieutenant, a crooked cop who loses the will to make sound decisions. These movies lay the pressure on their wayward protagonists, compressing, until out comes, well, some gritty gems of filmmaking.


Running Scared (2006)

Adjusted Score: 45.06%
Critics Consensus: This film runs with frenetic energy punctuated by gratuitous violence but sorely lacks in plot, character development and stylistic flair.
Synopsis: A minor crook finds himself in major peril when a "hot" weapon goes missing in this violent crime thriller. Joey... [More]
Directed By: Wayne Kramer


Rounders (1998)

Adjusted Score: 69.089%
Critics Consensus: Richly atmospheric and colorful performances contributed to the movie's entertainment value.
Synopsis: Set against the backdrop of New York's high-stakes underground poker world. Mike McDermott, a master card player who trades the... [More]
Directed By: John Dahl

Adjusted Score: 76.608%
Critics Consensus: Stunning and compelling, Scorsese and Cage succeed at satisfying the audience.
Synopsis: Nicolas Cage plays EMS paramedic Frank Pierce. It is the early 1990's and New York has not yet undergone its... [More]
Directed By: Martin Scorsese

Adjusted Score: 77.344%
Critics Consensus: Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels is a grimy, twisted, and funny twist on the Tarantino hip gangster formula.
Synopsis: British writer Guy Ritchie made his feature directorial debut with this crime-caper comedy-drama set in London's East End and heavy... [More]
Directed By: Guy Ritchie


Straight Time (1978)

Adjusted Score: 73.58%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Paroled criminal Max Dembo is compelled to withstand the calculated cruelties of parole officer Earl Frank. The more Max tries... [More]
Directed By: Ulu Grosbard


Bad Lieutenant (1992)

Adjusted Score: 80.076%
Critics Consensus: Bad Lieutenant will challenge less desensitized viewers with its depiction of police corruption, but Harvey Keitel's committed performance makes it hard to turn away.
Synopsis: If police lieutenant Harvey Keitel's life could get any more sordid, he could probably sell tickets. The least of his... [More]
Directed By: Abel Ferrara


The Gambler (1974)

Adjusted Score: 78.163%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The Gambler stars James Caan in the title role. Constantly in debt, college professor Caan must rely on his former... [More]
Directed By: Karel Reisz

Adjusted Score: 81.456%
Critics Consensus: Ben Gazzarra gives a grand performance as a hard-pressed debtor with delusions of grandeur in this naturalistic and tense thriller.
Synopsis: John Cassavetes takes a contemporary film noir turn (which he would return to in Gloria) after exploring domestic melodrama in... [More]
Directed By: John Cassavetes


Victoria (2015)

Adjusted Score: 86.583%
Critics Consensus: Victoria's single-take production is undeniably impressive, but it's also an effective drama in its own right -- and one that juggles its tonal shifts as deftly as its technical complexities.
Synopsis: A movie shot in a single take about Victoria, a runaway party girl, who's asked by three friendly men to... [More]
Directed By: Sebastian Schipper

Adjusted Score: 88.939%
Critics Consensus: Grueling and rewarding in equal measure, Heaven Knows What hits hard -- and serves as a powerful calling card for its captivating star, Arielle Holmes.
Synopsis: Directed by celebrated filmmakers Josh and Benny Safdie (LENNY COOKE, DADDY LONGLEGS), HEAVEN KNOWS WHAT blends fiction, formalism and raw... [More]
Directed By: Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie

Adjusted Score: 93.67%
Critics Consensus: A tense and effective thriller, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead marks a triumphant return to form for director Sidney Lumet.
Synopsis: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Albert Finney, and Marisa Tomei star in director Sidney Lumet's thriller concerning two brothers who... [More]
Directed By: Sidney Lumet

Adjusted Score: 84.465%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Dos primos de la Pequeña Italia en Nueva York que roban dinero para apostarle a los caballos, se inician en... [More]
Directed By: Stuart Rosenberg


Good Time (2017)

Adjusted Score: 101.839%
Critics Consensus: A visual treat filled out by consistently stellar work from Robert Pattinson, Good Time is a singularly distinctive crime drama offering far more than the usual genre thrills.
Synopsis: After a botched bank robbery lands his younger brother in prison, Constantine Nikas (Robert Pattinson) embarks on a twisted odyssey... [More]
Directed By: Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie


Run Lola Run (1999)

Adjusted Score: 96.219%
Critics Consensus: More fun than a barrel of Jean-Paul Sartre, pic's energy riffs on an engaging love story and really human performances while offering a series of what-ifs and a blood-stirring soundtrack.
Synopsis: Presenting his third feature after last year's acclaimed Wintersleepers, Tom Tykwer cranks up the volume, stiffens the pace, and jettisons... [More]
Directed By: Tom Tykwer


Thief (1981)

Adjusted Score: 94.829%
Critics Consensus: Thief is an invigorating cut of neon noir - proudly pulpy, steeped in authenticity, and powered by a swaggering James Caan at the peak of his charisma.
Synopsis: In Thief, James Caan plays Frank, a professional jewel thief who wants to marry Jessie (Tuesday Weld) and settle down... [More]
Directed By: Michael Mann

Adjusted Score: 53.475%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: This third installment of the "Pusher" trilogy follows Milo, the agining drug lord from the two first films. He is... [More]
Directed By: Nicolas Winding Refn


Whiplash (2014)

Adjusted Score: 105.73%
Critics Consensus: Intense, inspiring, and well-acted, Whiplash is a brilliant sophomore effort from director Damien Chazelle and a riveting vehicle for stars J.K. Simmons and Miles Teller.
Synopsis: Andrew Neyman is an ambitious young jazz drummer, single-minded in his pursuit to rise to the top of his elite... [More]
Directed By: Damien Chazelle

Adjusted Score: 99.335%
Critics Consensus: Framed by great work from director Sidney Lumet and fueled by a gripping performance from Al Pacino, Dog Day Afternoon offers a finely detailed snapshot of people in crisis with tension-soaked drama shaded in black humor.
Synopsis: Based on a true 1972 story, Sidney Lumet's 1975 drama chronicles a unique bank robbery on a hot summer afternoon... [More]
Directed By: Sidney Lumet

Adjusted Score: 98.006%
Critics Consensus: Bob Hoskins commands a deviously sinister performance in The Long Good Friday -- a gangster flick with ferocious intelligence, tight plotting and razor-edged thrills.
Synopsis: John Mackenzie's masterfully directed British crime drama features a star-making performance by Bob Hoskins as Harold Shand, a successful London... [More]
Directed By: John Mackenzie

Adjusted Score: 102.219%
Critics Consensus: The Friends of Eddie Coyle sees Robert Mitchum in transformative late-career mode in a gritty and credible character study.
Synopsis: Based on the best-selling novel by George V. Higgins, The Friends of Eddie Coyle chronicles the last days of a... [More]
Directed By: Peter Yates

Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.

Tag Cloud

news CBS All Access comiccon kids Disney Channel NYCC American Society of Cinematographers BBC One Hallmark die hard TIFF witnail TV Land breaking bad Awards E! screenings Photos Marathons Hallmark Christmas movies TCA PlayStation natural history IFC Films Trailer game show YouTube Peacock versus unscripted children's TV theme song Set visit indiana jones PaleyFest RT History Christmas reboot Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Showtime MCU Sneak Peek GIFs Heroines Rocky Nominations Esquire Year in Review spinoff romance Stephen King Comedy Hear Us Out Tumblr Calendar facebook all-time Biopics series asian-american LGBTQ 2019 Writers Guild of America werewolf Rom-Com DC Comics thriller mutant Shondaland Masterpiece police drama OneApp Character Guide Universal Superheroes Lifetime halloween free movies BET anthology stoner vampires dceu Countdown Paramount Chernobyl WGN mockumentary Horror toy story concert Fox News Mary Poppins Returns Country movie Dark Horse Comics GoT foreign adventure Musical tv talk Spring TV adaptation Star Trek Holiday Vudu BBC Family supernatural dark cops Creative Arts Emmys casting Pirates ABC Family scary movies social media FX on Hulu Fall TV dragons NBC First Reviews Thanksgiving Epix sitcom Mystery singing competition First Look Bravo biography spy thriller renewed TV shows psycho franchise television Disney streaming service Animation HBO Max Lucasfilm CNN Video Games Crackle sports Comedy Central Marvel Television LGBT FX CBS Grammys Mindy Kaling Paramount Network Arrowverse 20th Century Fox dramedy Election HBO Go Turner Classic Movies ABC festivals what to watch YouTube Premium Music WarnerMedia CMT Box Office Mudbound child's play SDCC Sundance TV TLC Comics on TV Hulu spider-man The Arrangement cinemax crime thriller Spike documentaries Extras Funimation Summer Marvel Sony Pictures TCA 2017 Acorn TV Trophy Talk cartoon name the review independent FOX Lionsgate TV VICE Nat Geo rotten movies we love Best and Worst Elton John USA Women's History Month directors game of thrones Travel Channel indie zombies APB Brie Larson Martial Arts Disney+ Disney Plus Britbox Nickelodeon 71st Emmy Awards ESPN Oscars TruTV Polls and Games Avengers Apple TV+ Disney Drama Ovation Quiz quibi crossover talk show Warner Bros. Sundance Reality Competition Anna Paquin Amazon Prime 2016 BET Awards chucky Tomatazos canceled politics miniseries YouTube Red blockbuster historical drama aliens Toys jamie lee curtis justice league See It Skip It San Diego Comic-Con ghosts spanish language video on demand golden globes 24 frames Rocketman composers comic joker political drama Infographic Red Carpet a nightmare on elm street TCA Winter 2020 comics sag awards Binge Guide 2020 Kids & Family Classic Film Rock Tubi blaxploitation FXX Academy Awards Tarantino stand-up comedy Star Wars Watching Series DirecTV Shudder President Comic Book twilight Fantasy The CW south america Endgame Spectrum Originals BAFTA satire parents Musicals CW Seed Television Academy DC Universe Crunchyroll screen actors guild comedies dc TBS Cosplay nature video Valentine's Day cars travel richard e. Grant films Premiere Dates Superheroe cats YA Turner based on movie war Action zombie revenge crime drama critics universal monsters harry potter Adult Swim technology Winners Pixar sequel Sundance Now Syfy Pop Disney Plus IFC 2018 Reality 2017 hist psychological thriller 45 Certified Fresh New York Comic Con Discovery Channel zero dark thirty Pet Sematary Lifetime Christmas movies Schedule teaser The Witch Ghostbusters binge award winner Starz Sci-Fi Marvel Studios cancelled television green book elevated horror USA Network A&E Opinion doctor who Pride Month Baby Yoda cults space Mary poppins 2015 RT21 MSNBC diversity Emmys National Geographic TCM boxoffice A24 Captain marvel Food Network animated discovery cancelled TV series History AMC Holidays Mary Tyler Moore PBS Cannes finale Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt robots VOD Trivia DGA Pop TV ratings medical drama Columbia Pictures Amazon Prime Video Black Mirror reviews Walt Disney Pictures 21st Century Fox documentary dogs ITV Film batman strong female leads slashers Awards Tour VH1 anime period drama disaster serial killer streaming Podcast 007 El Rey TNT best spain Ellie Kemper Winter TV mission: impossible TV renewals crime Cartoon Network movies Western OWN christmas movies Song of Ice and Fire X-Men romantic comedy Freeform cancelled TV shows Apple TV Plus SundanceTV HBO book Teen GLAAD MTV hispanic DC streaming service Black History Month BBC America Apple criterion Film Festival transformers 4/20 science fiction Emmy Nominations The Purge SXSW Logo latino cancelled Amazon Studios cooking Netflix canceled TV shows Super Bowl Amazon docudrama E3 true crime Netflix Christmas movies Interview The Walking Dead