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Venice Film Festival: It's Clooney vs. McConaughey (Plus, Firth, Knightley, Winslet, Mulligan & More!)

George Clooney, Ides of March, Colin Firth, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, Carey Mulligan, Shame, Matthew McConaughey, Killer Joe Sony Pictures; Working Title Films; See-Saw Films; Voltage Pictures

There is some major top-tier talent preparing to take the Lido by storm this summer.

It turns out the George Clooney-directed (and starring) political thriller The Ides of March, which will open the 68th Venice Film Festival on Aug. 31, is only the tip of the iceberg as far as this year's competition goes.

Twenty-one films will be battling for the Golden Lion, and it will up to a jury of their cinematic peers to see what roars the loudest, be it Matthew McConaughey as a cop and hitman in Killer Joe; Colin Firth and Tom Hardy as a couple of dashing Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy types; Jodie Foster and Kate Winslet as battling yuppie wives in Roman Polanski's Carnage; or a remake of Wuthering Heights starring a bunch of pretty Brits!

And the star wattage isn't the only thing that's special about these films...

MORE: Who's top-lining the star-studded Toronto Film Festival?

Every single movie in the Competition and Out of Competition categories will be making their world premiere during the always-glamorous festival.

Also vying for a prize are David Cronenberg, who directed Viggo Mortenson, Michael Fassbender and Keira Knightley in the sexy psychological drama A Dangerous Method, starring Mortenson as Sigmund Freud, Fassbender as Karl Jung and Knightley as a patient Jung seduces; Todd Solondz, whose Dark Horse stars Selma Blair and Justin Bartha as a couple of typical Solondzian malcontents; and Steve McQueen, whose Shame (the title says it all, doesn't it?) stars Fassbender and Carey Mulligan as brother and sister.

Among the films that are in the fest for the exposure rather than the competition are Steven Soderbergh's Gwyneth Paltrow-killing thriller Contagion, with Winslet and Matt Damon; the Al Pacino-directed docudrama Wilde Salome; and Madonna's feature directorial debut W.E., a dual-period romance about King Edward and divorcée Wallis Simpson and a modern-day affair between a woman and a married man.

But first, The Ides of March, costarring Ryan Gosling as the campaign staffer who pulls Clooney's presidential candidate into a shady predicament, kicks everything off Aug. 31 in the refurbished Sala Grande.

The festival runs until Sept. 10, and it sounds as if tons of A-listers are going to be invited—and, happily, they always go!

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