Top 10 Adam Sandler Performances

2. The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) – (2017)

Adam Sandler Ben Stiller

The Meyerowitz Stories Review

What is so fantastic about Adam Sandler’s performance in The Meyerowitz Stories can be best summed up by Sandler’s physical transformation and the embrace he had for screenwriter-director Noah Baumbach’s theatre-like style.

The actor, whose serious roles had dried up for the better part of a decade ahead of this film, adopted a limp that never once seemed to be out of place or a caricature, instead playing it as a sign of the character’s damaged life as well as his role as the fumbling, less-successful sibling of a fractured and untypical family.

Baumbach’s style of having dialogue spoken over other dialogue while the action is filmed in long takes is something akin to that of the stage, and despite sharing this particular stage with incredibly successful character actors like Dustin Hoffman, Sandler excelled, stealing the show from Hoffman, Ben Stiller, Emma Thompson and more, to become the standout of a very well performed dramatic picture.

Sandler’s performance was one that, in every way, fought for attention, the limp bringing the eye to his empathetic character, the stumbling dialogue being just different enough to mark him out from the rest. It was a truly fantastic performance from a star we’d long forgotten to be capable of such; one of the best and most unmissable performances of his entire career.

1. Uncut Gems (2019)

Uncut Gems Review

The Safdie Brothers’ anxiety-trip of a New York street-level movie had lots to tuck into and even more to admire, but the lead performance of Adam Sandler was arguably its most significant contribution.

In Uncut Gems, The Sandman was perfectly cast. The movie was centred on an unlikeable liar who was playing people off against each other in order to escape debts, and it needed someone we’d become used to liking to lead us through the narrative’s rapid series of events. Sandler delivered and then some, ensuring his unlikeable and ultimately problematic jewellery dealer was utterly unmissable, that you couldn’t take your eyes off him.

Present for almost every frame, Adam Sandler offered one of the great performances of the 2010s, his work dialling back his usual over-the-top antics and letting the film’s more erratic qualities speak for themselves, yet managing to forge something unforgettable nonetheless.

Front and centre Sandler delivered, and a lack of Oscars acknowledgment was a crying shame (especially when he’d put in the work on the awards season circuit). As Howard Ratner in Uncut Gems, Adam Sandler delivered one of the all-time great dramatic performances by any comedy actor, an outstanding feat unmatched in a memorable career.

Recommended for you: Safdie Brothers Movies Ranked

What did you make of our list? Did we miss any of Adam Sandler’s greatest performances out? Would you have ranked our top 3 as we did? Let us know in the comments below. And be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more movie lists, reviews, news, interviews and more.

Updated to include Uncut Gems 9th September 2021. Originally published 25th November 2018.

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