Adam Sandler Receives Standing Ovation for Best Actor Spirit Award Win

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Adam Sandler

Sandler likened his Oscars "snub" to getting passed up for the high school yearbook superlative of "best looking" for "best personality."

Adam Sandler won best male lead honors for his role in Uncut Gems at the 2020 Independent Spirit Awards on Saturday.

Putting on the gruff voice he's used while accepting kudos throughout the 2020 awards season, the actor used his speech to liken his Oscars snub to getting passed up for the high school yearbook superlative of "best looking" for "best personality."

"A few weeks back when I was, quote-unquote, snubbed by the Academy, it reminded me when I briefly attended high school and was overlooked for the coveted yearbook superlative category 'best looking,'" Sandler said. "That accolade was given to a jean jacket-wearing, feather-haired douchebag by the name of Skipper Jenkins."

He continued: "But my classmates did honor me with the allegedly less prestigious designation of 'best personality.' Tonight, as I look around this room, I realize that the Independent Spirit Awards are the 'best personality' awards of Hollywood. So, when all those feather-haired, douchebag motherfuckers go to get their Oscars tomorrow night, their handsome good looks will fade in time ... but our independent personalities will shine on forever."

From filmmakers Josh and Benny Safdie, Uncut Gems stars Sandler as a brash jeweler in New York City's Diamond District on the verge of several high-stakes bets.

The actor thanked producer Scott Rudin, who introduced Sandler to the Safdies, who also scored best director honors. 

"No, those aren't homeless rabbis, those are the Safdie brothers," Sandler said jokingly of his directors. "I had the best time getting to know you guys and I love you guys." 

 

In addition to the best male lead and best director awards, Uncut Gems took home the prize for best editing, while also having earned nominations for the top prize of best feature and best screenplay.

The Hollywood Reporter film critic Todd McCarthy deemed the film Sandler's best performance yet, asserting Uncut Gems would bring the Safdie brothers from the fringes of the industry to commercial success.

"Independent films have been a big part of the Adam Sandler ecosystem," Sandler in the lead-up to a recounting of the many commercial comedies that dominated his early career. "I have tried to sell my truths with a truly independent spirit, while also cashing some truly disturbingly large paychecks."

In the best male lead category, Sandler competed against Give Me Liberty's Chris Galust, Luce's Kelvin Harrison Jr., The Mustang's Matthias Schoenaerts and The Lighthouse's Robert Pattinson.

Heading into Saturday afternoon, Uncut Gems was tied with The Lighthouse, another A24 production, for the most nominations, leading with five each. The production company racked up 18 noms overall, spread across five films, although Robert Eggers' The Lighthouse was the only one to secure an Oscar nod, for best cinematography.

Aubrey Plaza hosted the annual awards show, which was televised live on IFC from a tent on the beach in Santa Monica.