There have been so many voices that augured an Oscar for his performance in Rough diamonds (which opens in Spain on January 31), which he himself tried to persuade academics by threatening them with what hurts them the most: his own comedies. “If they don’t give it to me, I’m going to re-shoot a lousy movie on purpose to make you all pay,” he sarcastically commented on Howard Stern’s radio show. The American Film Academy, which apparently does not negotiate with comedians, ruled out recognizing any merit, for the first time and after thirty years of career, to what has been one of the highest-grossing stars of the century. Also one of the most influential, criticized and polarizing, a guy capable of making filmmakers fall in love with the prestige of Paul Thomas Anderson and in turn having the historical record in the Razzie (the worst awards of the year in Hollywood): he has up to nine.
During the last decade, the specialized press has devoted merciless pages to him in the face of a trajectory that they describe as “horrendous” (‘The Washington Post’), “inexplicable” (‘The Telegraph’) or “shameful” (‘The Week’)
With Rough Diamonds (Uncut Gems), Adam Sandler (New York, 1966) delivers what for American critics (gathered in the influential National Board of Review) is the best male performance of the year. The same specialized press that, claiming criteria or pure snobbery, has devoted merciless pages to him during the last decade in the face of a trajectory that they describe as “horrendous” (The Washington Post), “inexplicable” (The Telegraph) or “shameful” (The Week). A career, however, blessed by the public and by platforms such as Netflix, which was put in their hands to change the way of how and where to watch movies. Despite the fact that it will not finally aspire to the statuette, the more than 400,000 ‘I like’ that added his Tweet of consolation in this regard, in which he assured that at least he was going to “be able to stop wearing a suit”, they give a good idea of the side of which the spectators are.
Fresh out –fired– from the mythical humor format Saturday Night Live In the mid-1990s, Sandler soon successfully transferred his television fame to the big screen and around the world. He incarnated a clown as a big boy, peterpanesco and prone to physical comedy, betting on a cozy, rude and lacking humor, a priori, of all subtlety and complexity to reach the largest possible audience. Based, also, on a public image of a cool type, but away from scandal, which made him easily identifiable and lovable.
He hardly ever left his comfort zone, producing most of his films himself (at the rate of nearly one a year) and surrounding himself with the same core of cast collaborators, with Chris Rock at the helm. The 3,000 million euros raised by his films around the world endorsed his title of great international star, but academics and critics denied him any recognition. Before we indulged in millennial cynicism, we were amused by fart jokes.
“Sandler is undervalued but, above all, because the type of interpretations that he makes pose a threat to that professional academicism that many critics and professionals of the industry consecrate. For them, conservatory graduates, theater greats, famous children and method actors tend to deserve much more respect ”, explains to ICON Cassie Da Costa, editor of the Another Gaze website and contributor to The New Yorker O The Daily Beast. Paradoxically, its other large sector of fans, in addition to the public, comes from the most prestigious auteur cinema. The few times that the actor has wanted to enter the dramatic field, he has done so with the help of some of the most renowned filmmakers of today, such as Paul Thomas Anderson (in Inebriated with love), Noah Baumbach (en The Meyerowitz Stories) and now with the Safdie brothers in Rough diamonds.
In this latest film, Sandler plays Howard Ratner, a famous New York jeweler, addicted to gambling, who enters a self-destructive spiral in order to pay off a large debt. Sandler’s work on this film has earned him redemption with the specialized press that, as in his other projects Prestige, has shown that animosity towards him is limited only to comedy.
But, what does Sandler have to be the favorite of the new voices of auteur cinema? “I love him, he has always made me laugh. I like almost all his films and I always feel better watching them ”, the director Paul Thomas Anderson confessed to the legendary film critic Roger Ebert in a 2002 interview. “His films are obviously good because they manage to communicate something to a lot of people and make them laugh. In the end, that’s what counts ”.
“Sandler is undervalued but, above all, because the type of interpretations that he makes pose a threat to that professional academicism that many critics consecrate” Cassie Da Costa, contributor to ‘The New Yorker’
Along the way, and unintentionally, the New Yorker, who has been married for 17 years to actress Jackie Sandler (with whom he has two daughters aged 14 and 12), changed the course of the traditional film model. In 2014, and after a series of premieres in commercial theaters that had underperformed their usual figures, Sandler was the first star who opted to sign an exclusive contract with Netflix, by which his next four films would be released on the platform. The agreement was a shock in the industry for the audacity to deny the historically essential premiere in cinemas and for its multimillion-dollar price: 225 million euros. Although critics massacred films like The Ridiculous 6, users blessed the union with record views. In 2017 the company extended the relationship with a new contract.
Six years after the pioneering agreement, even the films with the most Oscar nominations have reneged on theatrical screening, following the yellow tiles inaugurated by the comedian. Ted Sarandos, head of content at Netflix, explained the reasons for the bet of the giant of the streaming by Sandler: “Audiences love Adam’s movies and review them over and over again. Its appeal spreads through viewers of all ages, not only in the United States, but also around the world. ” I was right: Criminals at sea The most recent film by the actor on the platform and in which he stars alongside Jennifer Aniston, it was the most watched film on Netflix USA last 2019.
“Critics have appreciated that even what they consider ugly, embarrassing and inexplicable serves to update the roots and strength of comic cinema,” says Adam Nayman, journalist for The Ringer website and creator of the viral video “Adam Sandler deserves a Oscar “. “When I was little I loved movies like A cool dad, that parodied and celebrated that male neglect or indifference while investigating an aspect that haunts today: toxic masculinity. From The water carrier until Little Nicky, many of the characters in his comedies are men with problems to be so in the traditional sense of the word and who decide to rebel ”, adds Da Costa.
Like other actors like Matthew McConaughey, who jumped from the most expendable romantic comedy to working with directors like Martin Scorsese and Christopher Nolan, did before, will Sandler take advantage of his great moment to tackle bigger companies? “I doubt that this is going to be the beginning of a new path: he will remain true to his own taste. He will do whatever he wants, as always, and respect or the lack of it will come when he plays ”, says Nayman, who considers that if the compliments he garnered in drunk with love did not have much effect on his career neither will those received by Rough diamonds.
“They will continue to offer him complex lead roles, but the question is whether he will take them, taking into account the salaries of these types of independent productions and the significant commitment of time and energy that they require,” says Da Costa. And he concludes: “With the financial security provided by the agreement with Netflix, which has a check waiting for him when he wants to make another of his comedies, perhaps he can do more auteur projects.” We will see which of them is the “lousy” movie with which he promised to take revenge on the Academy after the last rudeness.
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The redemption of Adam Sandler: how the most criticized actor ended up changing the course of Hollywood | ICON