It's the film festival where Oscar hopefuls get their buzz on

Cannes is still the lizard king of fests, and if past years are any indication, a few of the films unfurled could fire the opening shots in this year's Oscar race. Consider that "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," "Persepolis" and eventual best picture winner "No Country for Old Men" were launched at Cannes 2007.

There is lots of speculation about Oscar potential for Cannes entries from past academy nominees and winners Fernando Meirelles, Atom Egoyan, Charlie Kaufman, Walter Salles, Steven Soderbergh, Clint Eastwood and others, although the sad fact remains that no film other than "Marty" has gone on to win the best picture Oscar after also nabbing the Palme d'Or -- and that was in 1955.

Several Palme victors, including "Friendly Persuasion," "MASH," "The Conversation," "Taxi Driver," "Apocalypse Now," "All That Jazz," "The Piano" and "Pulp Fiction," did go on to best picture nods. Four-time Oscar-winner Eastwood is a four-time Palme loser, but he's hoping the fifth time is a charm with "Changeling," starring Angelina Jolie. There's also lots of buzz about past Palme winner Soderbergh's pair of films being shown as "Che," a 4-hour, 28-minute epic; "Kung Fu Panda," a martial arts 'toon from DreamWorks; and Steven Spielberg's return today for the world premiere of "Indiana Jones," his first trip to Cannes since 1986 when he showed "The Color Purple" out of competition.

- Pete Hammond

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