Ken Loach and David Cronenberg will headline the race for Cannes gold at the Riviera festival next month, after organisers Thursday unveiled a line-up studded with stars from Nicole Kidman to Brad Pitt.
With a month to go until the May 16-27 event, organisers named the 22 films in the race for the Palme d'Or at the world cinema showcase, 17 in its new talent section, Un Certain Regard, and 15 more set for a red-carpet slot out of competition.
Canada's Cronenberg was tipped for "Cosmopolis", starring Robert Pattinson as a billionaire asset manager, while Britain's Loach will return for the 17th time with "The Angel's Share", a comedy about ex-offenders who turn to whisky-making.
Among other film giants, Austria's Michael Haneke -- who took the 2009 Palme d'Or for "The White Ribbon" -- will show "Amour" (Love), starring France's Isabelle Huppert as the daughter of a woman hit by a stroke.
"It's a journey through cinema, and a journey around the world," said Cannes' general delegate Thierry Fremaux, who selects the films to be submitted to the jury, headed this year by Italian Palme d'Or winner Nanni Moretti.
Picked from among 1,779 submissions, this year's selection favours smaller directors, but often with A-listers in top roles.
Australia looms large with Kidman starring in the 1960s-set "The Paperboy" by US director Lee Daniels, as well as in Philip Kaufman's "Hemingway and Gellhorn", shown out of competition, where she plays the writer's war reporter third wife.
Pitt is also teaming up with an Australian director, Andrew Dominik, for the gangster flick "Killing Them Softly", while Jessica Chastain, co-star of last year's Palme d'Or winner "The Tree of Life", returns in "Lawless", a film about bootlegging by Australia's John Hillcoat.
And Kylie Minogue stars in "Holy Motors" by the edgy Leos Carax, one of three French directors in the Palme d'Or competition along with New Wave veteran Alain Resnais, who is 89, and Jacques Audiard.
Marion Cotillard will add to the Cannes glamour in Audiard's "Rust and Bone", in which she plays a killer-whale trainer.
Star-wise, Pattinson will be reunited on the Riviera with his on-screen lover from the "Twilight" films, Kristen Stewart, who stars in "On the Road", adapted by the Brazilian Walter Salles from the Jack Kerouac novel.
In a quirky twist, Cronenberg father and son will both be in Cannes, with Brandon Cronenberg showing his first film "Antiviral" in the new talent section, chaired by British actor and director Tim Roth.
Wes Anderson's 1960s teen love story "Moonrise Kingdom", already announced as the Cannes opening film, will also run in competition, as will "Mud" by US actor Jeff Nichols, about two teenage boys and a fugitive.
Jury head Moretti said this month he would be "looking for films that are still able to surprise me".
Surprises in the Palme d'Or line-up include the presence of two South Koreans: Im Sangsoo with erotic thriller "Taste of Money", and Hong Sangsoo with "In Another Country" starring France's Huppert.
Veteran Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami, who won a Palme d'Or for "Taste of Cherry" in 1997, returns at 71 with "Like Someone in Love", a Japan-set story about a student who works as a prostitute.
A fellow Palme d'Or winner, the Romanian Cristian Mungiu who scooped it in 2007 for a harrowing Communist-era abortion drama, returns with "Beyond the Hills" about the friendship between two orphans.
And the Italian behind mafia drama "Gomorrah", Matteo Garrone, takes on modern-day TV culture with "Reality".
Less-known filmmakers invited to race for Cannes gold include Egypt's Yousry Masrallah with "After the Battle" about the aftermath of the Arab revolutions, or Mexico's Carlos Reygadas with "Post Tenebras Lux".
There are no women running for the Palme d'Or, and just two in the Un Certain Regard section, both French: Catherine Corsini and Sylvie Verheyde.
Verheyde's period drama "Confession of a Child of the Century" stars Charlotte Gainsbourg -- in Cannes for the third time in four years -- opposite the rocker Pete Doherty.
Noteworthy among films screening out of competition, France's Laurent Bouzereau will show his "Roman Polanski: a film memoir", a documentary about the director's time under house arrest in his Swiss chalet.
And the festival will close with a screening of Claude Miller's "Therese Desqueyroux", a tribute to the French filmmaker who had barely finished editing the movie when he died this month aged 70.