The best thriller on Netflix is leaving next week — and it’s 91% on Rotten Tomatoes

Adam Sandler in Uncut Gems
(Image credit: Alamy)

“Uncut Gems” is a movie that has been lodged in my brain for the best part of five years. Since debuting in late 2019 it’s been my go-to choice when recommending a compelling thriller on Netflix, and I’d argue it continues to be one of the very best flicks on the service. 

That’s why I was particularly dismayed when the movie’s listing was updated with the line nobody wants to see: “Last day to watch on Netflix: 8 May”. After almost four years on the streaming service (it was added to the Netflix U.S. library in late May 2020), “Uncut Gems” is taking its final bow (for now, at least). 

Now is the time to watch this remarkable thriller on Netflix, and if you’ve already seen it, be sure to rewatch it before it heads off to the great streaming service in the sky. If my above recommendation isn’t enough to convince you, here’s everything you need to know…

What is “Uncut Gems” about? 

Set in New York’s Diamond District, “Uncut Gems” centers on Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler) a jewelry store owner with a crippling gambling addiction that has alienated his family, and left him thousands of dollars in debt with his business on the brink of collapse. 

Looking for the next big score that will reverse his downward spiral, Howard thinks he’s hit the big time when he gets his hands on a rare uncut opal from an Ethiopian mine. With a high-profile buyer ready to pay an eye-watering sum for the gem, Howard might just get out of his self-created hole. 

However, the consequences of his mistakes loom, and as Howard schemes to make serious money and pay off his debts, his forced to confront his past and face the possibility that he’s in over his head with the types of people you don’t want to cross.

“Uncut Gems” reviews — critics liked this thriller 

“Uncut Gems” was highly appraised by critics. The thriller currently holds a 91% score on the review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes. However, its audience score is significantly less positive at just 52%. This is one of the largest discrepancies in score between critics and viewers I’ve ever seen and suggests the movie is rather divisive. 

Richard Roeper of Chicago Sun-Times noted that “Adam Sandler does award-worthy work” in “Uncut Gems”, and he was far from the only critic to praise the actor’s performance. Peter Howell of the Toronto Star called Howard, “the best character Sandler has ever played.” 

Another very positive review came from Justin Chang of the Los Angeles Times. “Directed with relentless tension and diamond-hard intelligence by Josh and Benny Safdie, "Uncut Gems" is a thriller and a character study, a tragedy and a blast,” said Chang. Meanwhile, Sheila O’Malley of called the movie “excruciating and exhilarating.” 

CNN’s Brian Lowry offered a more mixed reaction: “The story's unrelenting nature works against it, blunting the lure of seeing Adam Sandler in one of his occasional dramatic performances -- a showy role, yes, but in a movie that proves all that glitters is not gold.” 

Stream “Uncut Gems” on Netflix while you still can   

“Uncut Gems” succeeds thanks to a career-best performance from Adam Sandler, strong direction from the Safdie brothers, laser-sharp pacing and a screenplay that flips between downright hilarious and soberingly tragic on a dime. It’s a masterful thriller.   

However, it’s also been described as an “anxiety-inducing” watch, as the constantly increasing sense of tension can take its toll, and it’s also focused on a group of characters that you’d probably never want to meet in real life. However, if you can handle the intensity, and don’t mind spending a couple of hours with some horrible people, it’s a must-watch.  

You have until Wednesday, May 8 to watch “Uncut Gems” on Netflix U.S. after which time some other thriller will have the chance to cement itself as my go-to recommendation on the platform. Plus, if you want something less intense to watch on Netflix, check out this engrossing sports movie that won Will Smith his Oscar. 

More from Tom's Guide

Rory Mellon
Entertainment Editor (UK)

Rory is an Entertainment Editor at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics but with a particular focus on gaming and streaming. When he’s not reviewing the latest games, searching for hidden gems on Netflix, or writing hot takes on new gaming hardware, TV shows and movies, he can be found attending music festivals and getting far too emotionally invested in his favorite football team.