Ranking Adam Sandler’s Dramatic Roles From Worst to Best

Ranking Adam Sandler’s Dramatic Roles From Worst to Best
Ranking Adam Sandler’s Dramatic Roles From Worst to Best

There’s no denying that Adam Sandler is one of the biggest names in comedy. Starting out as a comedian, he quickly achieved Hollywood stardom as he transcended to acting, starring in blockbuster comedy movies like Big Daddy, The Waterboy, and Mr. Deeds. However, like many comedy stars, Sandler wanted to venture out of his comfort zone and prove himself in the dramatic realm as well.

Sandler’s foray into drama started with 2002’s Punch-Drunk Love, where he showcased a side to his framework that audiences didn’t know he possessed. After this, dramatic movies came few and far between as he mostly stuck to the comedies he is renowned for. However, in recent years, he has ventured into drama more and more. In 2024, Spaceman served as his latest dramatic effort. So, as he continues to diversify, let’s break down all of Adam Sandler’s dramatic movies and rank them from worst to best.

6. Spaceman (2024)

Adam Sandler in Spaceman (2024)

The Netflix original movie, Spaceman, charts the story of Jakub Prochazka (Sandler), an astronaut who is six months into a solo mission on the edge of the solar system. Problems arise when Jakub’s solitude starts to get the better of him and his mental health slowly deteriorates. As a result of this fragility, he soon becomes concerned with the state of his life back on Earth, battling feelings of guilt after leaving behind his wife.

From here, the movie takes a bizarre turn when Jakub befriends an ancient creature he discovers in the bowels of his ship. As the two form a bond, the creature (voiced by Paul Dano) begins to unravel Jakub’s life through a series of heartfelt conversations. Shortly after its release, Spaceman was met with mostly poor reviews. However, Sandler still stands out in a tour-de-force performance that commends his path be recognised as a true dramatic talent in cinema.

Watch Spaceman on Netflix

5. The Meyerowitz Stories (2017)

Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller in The Meyerowitz Stories (2017)

The comedy drama film, The Meyerowitz Stories, revolves around the dysfunctional Meyerowitz family as they come together to celebrate their aging patriarch’s artistic career. The film delves into the complex relationships and unresolved tensions between the family members, particularly focusing on the strained dynamics between the three grown-up siblings, played by Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, and Elizabeth Marvel. Despite receiving critical acclaim for its stellar performances and nuanced portrayal of familial bonds, The Meyerowitz Stories failed to resonate with a mainstream audience, possibly due to its dark humour and unflinching exploration of painful family dynamics. However, Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller shine in their dramatic roles, with Sandler delivering a standout performance as a man grappling with deep emotional pain while trying to maintain a facade of strength and composure.

Watch The Meyerowitz Stories on Netflix

4. Reign Over Me (2007)

Don Cheadle and Adam Sandler in Reign Over Me (2007)

The 2007 film Reign Over Me tells the poignant story of Charlie Fineman, played by Adam Sandler, a man who has isolated himself from the world following the tragic loss of his family in the September 11 attacks. When his former college roommate, Alan Johnson (Don Cheadle), reconnects with him, this leads to a profound friendship that helps Charlie confront his grief and navigate his emotional turmoil. Sandler delivers a nuanced and deeply moving performance in the role of Charlie, showcasing a level of vulnerability and heartbreak that is atypical of his more comedic roles. Reign Over Me allowed Sandler to adeptly utilise his explosive traits as an actor to convey the complex layers of grief and anguish that Charlie experiences, making his portrayal one of the most powerful and emotionally resonant performances of his career.

Watch Reign Over Me on Apple TV+

3. Hustle (2022)

Adam Sandler and Juancho Hernangomez in Hustle (2022)

In the 2022 Netflix movie, Hustle, Adam Sandler portrays a former basketball scout who discovers a talented player abroad and decides to bring him to the United States to launch his career. The film offers a perfect blend of comedy and drama, allowing Sandler to showcase his versatility as he delves further into the realm of more serious movies. In this role, Sandler’s comedic timing is present, however, it is much more understated and nuanced, moving away from the loud, eccentric, and explosive nature typically associated with his popular comedic characters. To that, his performance in Hustle demonstrates a depth and range that captivates audiences, proving that Sandler continues to evolve as an actor while delivering a compelling portrayal of a man navigating the complexities of relationships, ambition, and redemption.

Watch Hustle on Netflix

2. Punch-Drunk Love (2002)

Adam Sandler Dramatic Movies: Punch-Drunk Love (2002)

The 2002 film Punch-Drunk Love follows the story of Barry Egan (Adam Sandler), a socially awkward and emotionally repressed man who finds himself entangled in a bizarre and increasingly surreal series of events after falling in love with a woman named Lena. From the unique mind of Paul Thomas Anderson, the film features a simple yet mind-bending plot that explores themes of isolation, loneliness, and the search for connection in a chaotic world.

Anderson took a significant risk in casting Adam Sandler for the lead role, as Sandler was primarily known for his comedic roles at the time. However, Anderson saw in Sandler a potential for playing characters with underlying rage and vulnerability, qualities that were essential for the complex character of Barry. Sandler rose to the occasion and delivered a powerhouse performance, showcasing a stripped-down, raw portrayal of a broken man desperately trying to find peace and connection in a world that he feels he doesn’t quite fit into.

Watch Punch-Drunk Love on Netflix

1. Uncut Gems (2019)

Adam Sandler in Uncut Gems (2019)

Adam Sandler’s name was catapulted into the conversation of potential Oscar nominees in 2019 thanks to his remarkable performance in Uncut Gems. In the film, Sandler plays the role of Howard Ratner, a charismatic yet self-destructive New York City jeweller and compulsive gambler who embarks on a high-stakes journey that spirals out of control. From rising Hollywood talents the Safdie brothers, Uncut Gems follows Howard as he navigates a dangerous world of underground crime and high-stakes gambling while juggling personal and professional challenges.

Sandler commands the screen in one of the most anxiety-inducing movies of the last decade, if not in the entire history of cinema, as he brings Howard Ratner to life with a raw intensity and depth that is both captivating and unsettling. Sandler’s portrayal of the morally ambiguous and deeply flawed character showcases his range as an actor, earning him critical acclaim and solidifying his reputation as a versatile talent capable of delivering complex and compelling performances. Although he did not land an Oscar nomination, he was nominated for a Gotham Award and Critics Choice Award for Best Actor. Outside of this acclaim, Uncut Gems arguably stands out as his finest work in a dramatic movie to date. Want to learn about Adam Sandler’s family? Here’s everything we know about his daughter, Sadie Sandler.

Watch Uncut Gems on Netflix

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