At this year’s Toronto International Film Festival’s Gala screening of “Uncut Gems,” an excited patron shouted “Oscar for Sandman!” as Adam Sandler and the cast and crew walked off staged while the lights went down. The excitement for Benny and Josh Safdie’s new film was palpable. The anticipation for another performance out of Sandler’s wheelhouse was through the roof.
Sandler made his name on his 90s comedies. Recently, the actor’s movies have been looked at as a paid vacation. He hires some of his friends and they shoot a bad comedy together, rinse and repeat. His lucrative deal with Netflix assured audiences an abundance of his comedies would be coming down the pike and, so far, none of them have been received any kind of praise.
Every so often, Sandler takes a break from his comedies and shows he’s an actor capable of nuance. His performance in Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Punch Drunk Love” earned him a Golden Globe nomination and critical praise. In 2017, he was in the Oscar conversation for Noah Baumbach’s “The Meyerowitz Stories,” but the film didn’t generate much awards momentum.
Once again, Sandler has found himself in the awards conversation for his frantic performance in “Uncut Gems,” which has already won him Best Actor from the National Board of Review. He has earned nominations from the Gotham Awards, Independent Spirit Awards and the Broadcast Film Critics’ Association.
The season is looking good for Sandler. It remains to be seen if the Academy will go for “Uncut Gems.” The movie is loud, unrelenting and anxiety-inducing, which could turn some people off. There is a critical energy supporting a Best Actor nomination for Sandler. The current awards season phase is about putting movies and performances on people’s radar. If Sandler continues earn nominations and critics win, “Uncut Gems” might go to the top of an Oscar voter’s screener pile. Then maybe there will be an Oscar for Sandman.