9 Iconic Films That Garnered Critical Acclaim After Being Booed at Cannes

movies booed at cannes film festival

The Cannes Film Festival is one of the most prestigious film festivals of the year. First held in 1946, the film festival has seen stars and critics flock to the French Riviera each May for big red carpet premieres and glamorous parties.

Films that premiere at Cannes are often early indicators of the films we should be keeping an eye on for award season too. Parasite premiered at Cannes and went on to win Best Picture at the 2020 Academy Awards, and films like The PianoPulp Fiction and Amour went on to be big competitors in their respective Oscar seasons.

Last year, Anatomy of a Fall premiered at Cannes and won the Palme d’Or — the highest prize awarded at the festival. The film went on to receive five Academy Award nominations, and took home the prize for Best Original Screenplay.

This year, the 2024 festival will run from May 14 – 25, and is set to premiere some of the year’s hottest titles. Hot off the heels of Poor Things, Yorgos Lanthimos will premiere Kinds of Kindness at Cannes.

The film sees Lanthimos re-team with Emma Stone for the third time, and will co-star Jesse Plemons, Willem Dafoe and Margaret Qualley. Poor Things was nominated for 11 Academy Awards this year, and took home four wins, including a Best Actress in a Lead Role win for Stone.

Watch the Trailer for Kinds of Kindness:

One of the more notable premieres this year, though, is Francis Ford Coppola’s passion project Megalopolis. The Godfather director first began writing the script for Megalopolis in 1983, and as a self-funded epic that reportedly cost USD$120 million to make, the film is inarguably his riskiest yet.

“The seeds for Megalopolis were planted when as a kid I saw H.G. Wells’s Things to Come,” Coppola told Vanity Fair in a statement. “This 1930s Korda classic is about building the world of tomorrow, and has always been with me, first as the ‘boy scientist’ I was and later as a filmmaker.”

However, after the film screened for industry executives, word on the street was that Megalopolis was struggling to secure a distributor, with leaked reactions from the screening deeming the film “too experimental” for mass appeal.

While the buzz around Megalopolis has only grown from this, the Cannes audience will be one to watch for reactions to the sci-fi epic.

Related: From 1929 to Now, These Are the Most Talked About Moments Throughout Oscars History

The Cannes Audience

The Cannes audience is one of the most notorious for being one of the most passionate — and vocal — audiences in the world.

When the Cannes audience loves a film, they’ll sometimes offer up a 15 or even 20 minute standing ovation, showering the film with love and acclaim. Currently, the record for the longest standing ovation at Cannes is held by Guillermo Del Toro’s 2006 film Pan’s Labyrinth, which clocked in at a whopping 22 minutes. That’s literally the run time of an episode of Friends!

Perhaps even more notable, though, is the booing. The Cannes audience is quite simply notorious for booing films they don’t like, even if they’re good!

Films That Were Booed At the Cannes Film Festival


Directed by: David Cronenberg
Written by: David Cronenberg, based on the novel by J.G. Ballard
Starring: James Spader, Holly Hunter, Elias Koteas
Synopsis: After getting into a serious car accident, a TV director discovers an underground sub-culture of scarred, omnisexual car-crash victims who use car accidents and the raw sexual energy they produce to try to rejuvenate his sex life with his wife.
Where to watch: Streaming on Prime Video

No, we’re not talking about the controversial Best Picture winner Crash, the other one. Considered to be one of David Cronenberg’s best films, Crash often finds itself on ‘Best Films of the ’90s round ups… now.

When it premiered at Cannes, it was a different story, though. This film about people who get turned on by car crashes was booed for its controversial subject matter, as well as its graphic violence and sex scenes. Still, despite the boos, Francis Ford Coppola’s jury still awarded it the Grand Jury Prize.

The Da Vinci Code

Directed by: Ron Howard
Written by: Akiva Goldsman, based on the novel by Dan Brown
Starring: Tom Hanks, Audrey Tatou, Jean Reno
Synopsis: A murder inside the Louvre, and clues in Da Vinci paintings, lead to the discovery of a religious mystery protected by a secret society for two thousand years, which could shake the foundations of Christianity.
Where to watch: TBC

Based on the bestselling Dan Brown novel of the same name, The Da Vinci Code was quite simply just not a good fit for the Cannes Film Festival. Although Cannes has become progressively more mainstream over the years, it’s known for its highbrow, prestige, artsy films, rather than its big budget blockbusters, and The Da Vinci Code is very much the latter.

Despite the boos, The Da Vinci Code was a box office smash, and the cast returned for the 2009 sequel Angels and Demons.

Inglourious Basterds

Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
Written by: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Eli Roth, Diane Kruger
Synopsis: In Nazi-occupied France during World War II, a plan to assassinate Nazi leaders by a group of Jewish U.S. soldiers coincides with a theatre owner’s vengeful plans for the same.
Where to watch: Streaming on Prime Video

Despite going on to receive eight Academy Award nominations, the Cannes audience is reported to have booed Tarantino’s WWII flick. However, there are conflicting reports how just how much booing it received. Some reports state that the reception was less negative and more one of indifference.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer

Directed by: Yorgos Lanthimos
Written by: Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Barry G. Bernson, Colin Farrell
Synopsis: Steven, a charismatic surgeon, is forced to make an unthinkable sacrifice after his life starts to fall apart, when the behaviour of a teenage boy he has taken under his wing turns sinister.
Where to watch: Streaming on Stan

These days, A24 is known for its prestige horror films, like Hereditary, Midsommar and The Witch. In 2017, though, it was a different story. The Killing of a Sacred Deer was met with boos at Cannes. After the screening, Variety writer Guy Lodge tweeted:

“Predictable booing after Killing of a Sacred Deer from critics who somehow resent being challenged or chafed at Cannes. It’s magnificent.”

Marie Antoinette

Directed by: Sofia Coppola
Written by: Sofia Coppola
Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Jason Schwartzman, Rip Torn
Synopsis: The retelling of France’s iconic but ill-fated queen, Marie Antoinette. The film follows her betrothal and marriage to Louis XVI at 14, her reign as queen at 19, through to the fall of Versailles.
Where to watch: Streaming on BINGE

Coppola’s Marie Antoinette is a cult classic, beloved for its gorgeous costumes, pastel colour palette and iconic soundtrack. When the flick debuted at Cannes, however, the French audience was less than pleased at Coppola’s yassified take on their nation’s most infamous royal. Boos ensued.

Pulp Fiction

Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
Written by: Quentin Tarantino, with story by Tarantino and Roger Avary
Starring: John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Samuel L. Jackson
Synopsis: The lives of two mob hitmen, a boxer, a gangster and his wife, and a pair of diner bandits intertwine in four tales of violence and redemption.
Where to watch: Streaming on Prime Video

To be clear, Pulp Fiction was not booed when it premiered at Cannes. Rather, it was booed when it went on to win the Palme d’Or, beating out Krzysztof Kieślowski’s Three Colors: Red.

It was another Tarantino film that left the Cannes audience divided. Ultimately, though, it went on score seven Academy Award nominations.

Taxi Driver

Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Written by: Paul Schrader
Starring: Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Cybill Shepherd
Synopsis: A mentally unstable veteran works as a nighttime taxi driver in New York City, where the perceived decadence and sleaze fuels his urge for violent action.
Where to watch: Rent on Prime Video

These days, it’s wild to think that this classic Scorsese film could be met with anything other than praise. Taxi Driver was a different time, and a different story. When it debuted at Cannes in 1976, the audience booed it for being too violent.

Still, the film was awarded the Palme d’Or, and went on to score four Academy Award nominations.

The Tree of Life

Directed by: Terrence Malik
Written by: Terrence Malik
Starring: Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Jessica Chastain
Synopsis: The story of a family in Waco, Texas in 1956. The eldest son witnesses the loss of innocence and struggles with his parents’ conflicting teachings.
Where to watch: Streaming on Stan

The Tree of Life is another film booed by the audience that went on to win the Palme d’Or. Audiences at the time were split on this one. While some loved the film, others felt that it was too pretentious and extravagant. They booed, only to be drowned out by a much larger portion of the theatre, who offered up a standing ovation.

The Tree of Life went on to have the last laugh when it received an Oscar nomination for Best Picture in 2012.

Wild at Heart


Directed by: David Lynch
Written by: David Lynch, based on the novel by Barry Gifford
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Laura Dern, Willem Dafoe
Synopsis: Young lovers Sailor and Lula run from the variety of weirdos that Lula’s mom has hired to kill Sailor.
Where to watch: Rent on Apple TV

If David Lynch is going to do anything, it’s divide an audience reaction. The audience was turned off by Lynch’s brutal violence and filmmaking, who booed the film. The Grand Jury disagreed. They awarded the film the Palme d’Or, and Lynch fans now consider it one of the filmmaker’s best.

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