The Minutes-Long Film Festival Standing Ovations Are Getting Out of Control

There is no movie good enough to warrant standing and applauding for 15 minutes straight

A crowd in a theater gives a standing ovation
Doing this for 15 minutes is a little ridiculous, no?
Getty Images

This weekend, a bunch of highly anticipated movies made their debut at the Venice Film Festival, and more than a handful of them were met with absurdly long standing ovations. Luca Guadagnino’s Bones and All had the crowd on its feet for a whopping 8.5 minutes. Brendan Fraser’s comeback vehicle The Whale received an emotional six-minute standing O that had the star in tears, while Todd Field’s Tár received an equally long ovation. Olivia Wilde’s Don’t Worry Darling, despite receiving mixed reviews from critics, nonetheless had people standing and clapping for a solid four minutes. And Martin McDonagh’s The Banshees of Inisherin topped them all, receiving a rapturous 15-minute standing ovation.

With all due respect to these films, enough is enough. These insanely long ovations have become silly and performative. (Even if a movie happened to be the greatest thing you’d ever seen, would you really feel compelled to stand and applaud it for the amount of time it takes the average human being to walk a mile?) It seems as though these standing Os are less about the actual quality of the movies themselves and more about festival-goers pushing the limits of fandom, getting lost in the moment and trying to one-up those who came before them. But when the vast majority of the films screening at a festival receive a standing ovation, the standing ovations become meaningless; if everything is given such a warm reception and it becomes the norm, then it’s no longer any indicator of quality.

If a movie like Don’t Worry Darling, which currently has a deeply mediocre 46% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, warrants a four-minute standing ovation, how long are we now expected to stand for something that’s…actually good? Festival audiences keep moving the goalposts; will we soon start seeing Oscar contenders getting hour-long applause sessions?

The thing is, save for the rare occasion where an ovation actually feels appropriate — like, say, when an actor like Fraser, who was blacklisted by the industry for years after speaking out about being sexually assaulted by a former president of the Hollywood Foreign Press, is finally welcomed back with open arms — these never-ending curtain calls are awkward and uncomfortable for everyone involved. Surely even the most narcissistic actor would start to wonder what he should be doing to feign humility while all eyes are on him for 10-plus minutes of applause. How long is he expected to wait before he simply leaves? And who in the crowd really wants to stand up bashing their hands together for so long?

No one, that’s who. It’s time to nip this masturbatory trend in the bud before the ovations eventually become longer than the movies themselves.

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