When the trailer dropped Tuesday for the Safdie brothers’ new thriller Uncut Gems, the talk of social media was just how excited people were to see Adam Sandler take on such a dramatic role. But this isn’t the first time the comedy legend has displayed his dramatic chops, in fact, it’s an area where he has excelled.
Regardless of how you feel about the quality of some of Sandler’s films, there is no denying that he is a star. Dig deeper into his filmography and you will find that the Saturday Night Live breakout can be a mesmerizing actor capable of more than just the broad, brash comedy he built his name on.
Here are five films where — possibly by giving up some creative control — Sandler turned in an emotional performance proving an Oscar is never out of the question for him.
The Wedding Singer
Sandler, especially when paired with Drew Barrymore, has proven to be an effective romantic comedy lead, never more evident than in The Wedding Singer. The actor can’t help but wear his heart on his sleeve in his performances, leading to fluttery, heartwarming gestures like hopping onto a plane to confess his love.
Before working with Academy Award-nominated filmmakers like Jason Reitman (on Men, Women & Children) and Tom McCarthy (on The Cobbler), Sandler entered the world of so-called prestige film in Punch-Drunk Love with Paul Thomas Anderson. The auteur uses Sandler’s manic energy to set the rhythmic tone of the experimental film, which proves the comedic actor’s ability to captivate audiences even when what they’re watching is uncomfortable.
Just as Sandler can explode into a comedic rage, he proves in Spanglish that he’s also capable of a softness where one voice crack can break a viewer’s heart.
A film like Funny People is certainly long enough to allow Sandler to show everything he offers as an actor, even finding a way to use the physical comedy he’s known for as a device leading to the emotional climax of the film.
The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
Sandler has a penchant for using music to draw out a fountain’s worth of tears from audience members, as he employs in The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) and his recent hosting stint on an Emmy-winning SNL episode.