Ovation Inflation

What is going on at Cannes and *who* is counting?
Ovation Inflation

It’s pretty clear at this point that we need some sort of standards body regulating the standing ovation industry at the Cannes Film Festival. The numbers are both out of control and all over the place. If nothing else, we need a rating/ranking system to be able to put context around the ovations. Because they're a totally serious and not at all silly measuring stick.

For the past few days, Xitter has been lit up with word that so-and-so movie got such-and-such minutes of ovations. At first, I was falling victim to this: "wow, must be a great work of art!" Then the headlines kept coming and coming and coming. And you quickly see some problems and also some weird patterns emerging...

First and foremost, a very odd number of the ovation marks seem to gravitate towards seven minutes. Why seven? Unclear. Presumably because it's a number that seems more impressive than the good old five-minute mark. But it's also seemingly random enough that someone wouldn't just make it up. You'd think that, right? Wrong.1 Read on.

Anyway, seven minutes feels like the bare minimum standing ovation time you now need to be considered a strong ovation. Below that, you're going to get some weird headlines. Above that, the race is on...

Take Oh, Canada, with its sad 3-minute ovation. I mean, did everyone even have time to stand up to clap in three minutes?

Paul Schrader’s ‘Oh, Canada’ With Richard Gere, Uma Thurman Draws 3-Minute Standing Ovation
The film reunites Schrader with his ‘American Gigolo’ star in a tale of mortality, secrets, and regret.

Wait, perhaps it was 4-minutes, just enough time for everyone to stand. Phew:

Jacob Elordi Skips Cannes as Crying Paul Schrader Accepts 4-Minute Standing Ovation for ‘Oh, Canada’
Paul Schrader’s new drama ‘Oh, Canada,’ starring Jacob Elordi and Richard Gere, premiered at Cannes Film Festival on Friday night.

Regardless of the length, at least it wasn't labeled as a "robotic" ovation, such as the 3.5-minute – lol – one Léa Seydoux got for The Second Act:

Cannes Kicks Off With Robotic 3.5-Minute Standing Ovation for AI-Themed Comedy ‘The Second Act’ Starring Léa Seydoux
Quentin Dupieux’s ‘The Second Act,’ starring Léa Seydoux and Vincent Lindon, opened the Cannes Film Festival on Tuesday night.

Cate Blanchett also got 4-minutes – which was somehow mainly about her and not about her film Rumours, as most of the headlines indicate:

Cate Blanchett Blows Kisses as Apocalyptic Comedy ‘Rumours’ Gets 4-Minute Standing Ovation at Cannes Film Festival
Cate Blanchett’s new film, ‘Rumours,’ earned a standing ovation at Cannes Film Festival on Saturday night.

You know what beat Blanchett? Emma Stone’s new movie about sex cults and cannibalism. Kinds of Kindness also got a comically specific "4.5-minute" ovation. We're really doing the '.5' thing, I guess. They couldn't even round up to five minutes?! Did someone literally stop a stopwatch at the 30 second mark?

Emma Stone’s Descent Into Sex Cults and Cannibalism in ‘Kinds of Kindness’ Lands 4.5-Minute Standing Ovation in Cannes
Yorgos Lanthimos’ ‘Kinds of Kindness,’ with Emma Stone and Jesse Plemons, earned a standing ovation at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival.

Coming in just under the "strong" minimum was Nicolas Cage's The Surfer, which is undoubtedly very strange because every movie he makes now is very strange. But how am I sure this one is strange? A mere 6-minute ovation, of course:

Nicolas Cage’s Sun-Bleached, Rat-Munching Mind-Bender ‘The Surfer’ Makes Waves at Cannes With 6-Minute Standing Ovation
Nicolas Cage’s new psychological thriller, ‘The Surfer,’ premiered at Cannes Film Festival on Friday night.

Furiosa looks great, but also got a 6-minute ovation. Some publicist surely must be working the phones trying to add a minute to the number...

‘Furiosa’ Fires Up Cannes With 6-Minute Standing Ovation for Anya Taylor-Joy and Teary Chris Hemsworth
George Miller’s ‘Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga,’ starring Anya Taylor-Joy, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and earned a six-minute standing ovation.

Update: they did their job, adding not just one minute, but "nearly" two! We're also going to need the standards body to weigh in on "nearly" now though. Is that 7:45 and above? Clearly it's not 7:30 or we'd get "7.5" per the standard set above.

‘Furiosa’ Gets Nearly 8-Minute Standing Ovation After Its Cannes World Premiere
George Miller’s Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, the latest in his apocalyptic franchise, had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on May 15.

Meanwhile, Bird flew in at just 7-minutes. Solid work, Barry Keoghan:

Barry Keoghan’s new film Bird gets seven-minute standing ovation at Cannes
Bird tells the story of Bailey, a 12-year-old girl living on the fringes of UK society with her single father and brother in a North Kent squat

Variety notes that Kevin Costner started sobbing during the 7-minute ovation for his new film Horizon, which seems a bit much given that we all know that 7-minutes is the bare minimum for a strong film (then again, some reports have Chris Hemsworth getting emotional over the 6-minute ovation listed above – keep it together, Thor)...

Kevin Costner Can’t Hold Back Tears as His Western Epic ‘Horizon’ Earns 7-Minute Cannes Standing Ovation, Promises ‘3 More’ Installments
Kevin Costner’s ambitious and expensive ‘Horizon: An American Saga’ premiered at Cannes on Sunday night, earning a 7-minute standing ovation.

Ah but wait, People says the ovation was 10-minutes! Much more sob-worthy. Also, the ovation scale is clearly similar to the Richter scale – less in magnitude and more in the way that we can update the number after the fact once the Earth has stopped moving...

Kevin Costner Moved to Tears by 10-Minute Standing Ovation for Passion Project ‘Horizon’ in Cannes: ‘I’ll Never Forget This’
Kevin Costner got emotional after an audience applauded his new film, ‘Horizon: An American Saga,’ following its premiere at the 77th annual Cannes Film Festival on Sunday, May 19. Costner co-wrote, directed and stars in the four-part period drama about the settlement of the American West.

Megaopolis – clearly either the most interesting or un-interesting movie ever made – also was able to hit the 7-minute mark. Feels a bit lite given the non-stop talk about how batshit crazy and/or brilliant this movie is?

‘Megalopolis’ Debuts At Cannes With 7-Minute Standing Ovation
Francis Ford Coppola’s dystopian epic Megalopolis had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on May 16.

Not to worry though, The Hollywood Reporter boosted the number to 10-minutes:

Cannes: Francis Ford Coppola’s Much-Discussed ‘Megalopolis’ Receives 10-Minute Standing Ovation
The legendary filmmaker, 85, last had a film in competition at the fest 45 years ago — ‘Apocalypse Now,’ for which he was awarded the Palme d’Or for the second time, five years after ‘The Conversation’ won it.

The 10-minute after-the-fact boost is important because it beats Selena Gomez's 9-minute-mark. Which had been the number to beat. Costner and Coppola simply could not let someone who began her career acting on Barney & Friends best them...

Selena Gomez Weeps as ‘Emilia Pérez’ Earns Biggest Cannes Standing Ovation So Far at 9 Minutes
‘Emilia Perez,’ starring Zoe Saldaña, Selena Gomez and Karla Sofía Gascón, earned a standing ovation at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival.

Hold that thought, as the Emilia Perez ovation is now up to 11-minutes! Try again, Costner.

‘Emilia Pérez’ Starring Zoe Saldaña And Selena Gomez Scores 11-Minute Ovation At Cannes World Premiere
Jacques Audiard’s latest movie, the musical crime comedy Emilia Pérez, had its world premiere Saturday in Cannes, where it got an x-minute ovation…

Okay, he will. Horizon just hit 11-minutes too!

Kevin Costner’s ‘Horizon: An American Saga’ Gets 11-Minute Ovation At Its Cannes World Premiere
Kevin Costner’s Horizon: An American Saga had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on Sunday, getting an 11-minute, 40-second ovation

Also coming in at 11 (if 7 is the threshold for a "strong" ovation, 11 looks to be the barrier for "great" ovation – it goes to... ah, nevermind), Demi Moore's The Substance:

Cannes Goes Apes— for ‘The Substance,’ Demi Moore and Margaret Qualley’s Flesh-Shredding Body Horror, With 11-Minute Standing Ovation
Demi Moore and Margaret Qualley’s feminist body horror film ‘The Substance’ earned a standing ovation at Cannes Film Festival on Sunday night.

Oh wait, Emilia Perez and Horizon are also sitting at 11-minutes? We need a winner here. Let's go ahead and upgrade that 11 to 13:

Demi Moore’s The Substance Receives 13-Minute Standing Ovation At Cannes 2024 - News18
Demi Moore’s The Substance premiered at the 77th Cannes Film Festival this year and received a rousing standing ovation from the audience.

Sure, it started at 9 minutes, but what's a 4 minute bump amongst friends?

Cannes: Body-Horror Flick ‘The Substance’ Wows Fest, Getting Nine-Minute Standing Ovation
French filmmaker Coralie Fargeat’s competition film stars Demi Moore, Dennis Quaid and Margaret Qualley.

Anyway, all of these have nothing on what are clearly the greatest films of all time, as relayed by IndieWire:

  • Belle14 Minutes: An animated film from 2021 you've undoubtedly never heard of...
  • Capernaum15 Minutes: a Lebanese film from 2018 you've undoubtedly never heard of...
  • The Paperboy15 Minutes: a 2012 movie starring Matthew McConaughey, John Cusack, Nicole Kidman, Zac Efron, and David Oyelowo – that I've literally never heard of until now.
  • The Neon Demon17 Minutes: a 2016 Nicolas Winding Refn film with a cool name but was not Drive...
  • Mud18 Minutes: I really liked Mud, I probably would not have given it an 18-minute standing ovation, but clearly the Cannes audience loves Matthew McConaughey, alright, alright?
  • Fahrenheit 9/1120 Minutes: Michael Moore's 2004 documentary was perfectly-timed ovation bait.
  • Pan’s Labyrinth22 Minutes: Guillermo del Toro’s movie is certainly interesting, haunting, and memorable – all much more so than The Shape of Water which somehow won the Best Picture Oscar a decade later.

1 Is someone really there with a stopwatch/Apple Watch actually timing such things? Presumably no, which is another part of the problem. But also cleary someone is trying -- or pretend trying -- to keep track?