Each Cannes Film Festival is accompanied by the annual debate about whether the length of a film’s standing ovation is an accurate measure of its quality. But whether you see the practice of tracking ovation times as a fun cinephile tradition or an oversimplified waste of time, there’s no denying that it happens every year. For certain film industry observers, the number of minutes of applause that a buzzy movie receives on the Croisette is as significant as the first wave of reviews.
Cannes audiences have long been known for their bold responses to new movies. There’s virtually no such thing as a lukewarm response at the world’s biggest film festival — or at least, nothing that an American audience would recognize as lukewarm. Virtually all films receive either a standing ovation or loud boos (or in some cases, a combination of the two). The over the top responses are a ritual in and of themselves, and many see the practice as a declaration that cinema is an artform that’s worthy of our unbridled passion.
More from IndieWire
Not every film that gets booed is bad — some undisputed classics have been the target of Croisette ire at one point or another. And not every film that receives a massive ovation ends up being remembered fondly by history. But for a filmmaker, few thrills compare to receiving a rapturous response to your movie’s Cannes premiere. Critics, international audiences, and Oscar voters all have a role to play in defining a film’s legacy, but Cannes audiences get to write the first chapter with their applause.
The tradition continued this year when Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon” received a nine minute standing ovation — a feat that’s all the more impressive considering the audience had already been in the theater for 206 minutes. The ovation can be interpreted as both an indicator of the film’s quality and a gesture of appreciation towards its legendary director and his A-list cast for making the trek to the festival.
Moments like that are often immortalized in Cannes history and add to the mystique of the iconic festival. Keep reading for a list of the films that received the longest standing ovations at the Cannes Film Festival over the years.
Best of IndieWire