The lineup for the Cannes Film Festival is one of cinema’s most closely guarded secrets, a super-exclusive list of auteurs and Hollywood faces that provokes intense speculation among cinephiles worldwide.
Officials at the annual festival have so far confirmed one film -- Woody Allen’s “Cafe Society,” starring Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart, which will open this year’s extravaganza on May 11 in a noncompetition slot. Amazon said it would release the film commercially later this year.
Festival head Thierry Frémaux is scheduled to unveil the complete selection on Thursday. George Miller, who was at Cannes last year with “Mad Max: Fury Road,” will serve as jury president for the main competition.
There has been significant buzz around two Hollywood movies that seem likely shoo-ins for their world premieres: the Jodie Foster-directed “Money Monster,” starring George Clooney as a Jim Cramer-esque financial celebrity whose TV show is held hostage; and Steven Spielberg’s “The BFG,” based on the Roald Dahl book.
Foster has been a regular presence at Cannes throughout the decades and presented her last directorial effort -- the bleak comedy “The Beaver,” starring Mel Gibson -- in an out-of-competition slot in 2011.
Spielberg was previously at Cannes as jury president in 2013 and presented “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” in 2008.
Sean Penn is widely expected to debut his latest directorial effort “The Last Face,” which stars his erstwhile flame Charlize Theron. Jeff Nichols is generating buzz with his interracial drama “Loving,” as is Jim Jarmusch for “Paterson,” starring Adam Driver.
A few European films seem likely to bow at Cannes, given their directors’ track record with the festival.
Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne’s “The Unknown Girl,” starring the in-demand French actress Adèle Haenel, seems almost guaranteed a slot. The Belgian brothers, whose films document working-class hardships with docu-realist intimacy, have twice won the top festival prize, the Palme d’Or.
Olivier Assayas could be headed back to the Palais des Festivals steps with “Personal Shopper,” a ghost story set in the fashion world and starring Stewart in what would be her second film at Cannes this year.
Assayas was at the festival two years ago with “Clouds of Sils Maria” and presented his miniseries “Carlos” out of competition in 2010.
Paul Verhoeven could return to the main competition for the first time since “Basic Instinct” with his French-language thriller “Elle,” starring Isabelle Huppert.
The latest Pedro Almodovar film, “Julieta,” is another possible entry, as is Bruno Dumont’s “Ma Loute.”
Intense speculation also surrounds Nicolas Winding Refn, whose latest film “The Neon Demon” was shot in Los Angeles. Refn debuted his last two features, “Only God Forgives " and “Drive,” in competition, winning the director prize for the latter.
Other possible entries include the latest movies by Asghar Farhadi, Ken Loach, Andrea Arnold, Bertrand Bonello, Xavier Dolan and Hirokazu Kore-eda.
The Cannes Film Festival is set to run this year from May 11 to 22.