Adam Sandler and awards season glory don’t tend to go hand-in-hand, even if the actor and producer does have one Golden Globe, three Grammy and four Emmy nominations under his belt. For over a quarter of a century, he’s built a bulletproof brand almost entirely on the basis of comedy vehicles that rope in many recurring co-stars and collaborators, but when Sandler does venture into dramatic territory, he reminds you of what a fantastic talent he can be in the right project.
The last time The Sandman went serious came in 2019’s Uncut Gems, and there was even Oscar buzz swirling around his performance for a minute or two. While he never made the shortlist, he did scoop the Best Actor prize from the National Board of Review and Independent Spirit Awards, and upcoming Netflix sci-fi Spaceman could see him right in the thick of the Academy Award conversation.
The literary adaptation follows an astronaut sent to the edge of the universe to collect samples, only to descend into madness, alcoholism and depression through isolation, where he befriends a huge alien arachnid that may or may not be real. That sounds like a showcase performance if ever there was one, especially with Adam Sandler set to be the only human presence on screen for the majority of the runtime.
Throw in award-winning Chernobyl director Johan Renck behind the camera, two-time Oscar nominee Carey Mulligan as the wife of Sandler’s Jakub and the fact that existential sci-fi epics like Interstellar, Gravity, Arrival, Ex Machina, The Martian, Her and even WALL-E all managed to score at least a couple of Academy Award nods, and Spaceman could be a realistic contender if it ends up delivering on the potential of the plot, premise and casting.