Russell Crowe, Robin Hood

Universal Pictures

The Cannes Film Festival is opening with a bang whoosh. Or whatever noise results when an arrow leaves its bow.

As announced last month, the latest big-screen man in tights, Russell Crowe, will open up the 11 days of film in France, as Ridley Scott's Robin Hood, starring Crowe and Cate Blanchett, serves as the starter to the hallowed festival.

But while the list of stars set to arrive en masse to the Mediterranean idyll is dazzling, it doesn't quite hold the star power of who was surprisingly left off the guest list.

Better luck next time, Brad Pitt.

Terrence Malick's Tree of Life, which stars Pitt, was long expected to make the cut, but was suspiciously absent when the entrants were announced at a press conference this morning. Festival director Thierry Frémaux said that he saw a rough cut of the film a few months ago but that it was not quite ready for the curtain to rise.

However, there is still hope for a Brangelina sighting: Cannes organizers have held back on filling up all the slots for the festival, and Tree of Life could very well earn a last-minute placement in the six or seven spaces still available.

Meanwhile, although Tim Burton may be flying the flag for the red, white and blue by heading up the jury, the list of American directors screening in competition is, per usual, quite light.

The biggest U.S. entry to screen in competition is Doug Liman's political thriller Fair Game, which features the big-screen reteaming of Naomi Watts and Sean Penn and is based on the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame.

Out of competition, Woody Allen and Oliver Stone are both showing films: You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, respectively. Allen's film features a repeat performance from Watts, who is joined by an all-star cast including Anthony Hopkins, Josh Brolin, Antonio Banderas and Freida Pinto.

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, meanwhile, can be thanked for bringing Shia LaBeouf, Carey Mulligan and Michael Douglas to the French Riviera.

Stabs at populism aside, this year's lineup is heavy on cinematic icons. Jean-Luc Godard's Film Socialisme, Alejandro González Iñárritu's Biutiful, Mike Leigh's Another Year, Takeshi Kitano's Outrage and Abbas Kiarostami's Copie Conforme (Certified Copy) are all in the competition (ask a film student…or your most pretentious friend).

Screening out of competition but under the Un Certain Regard banner this year is Sundance smash Blue Valentine, starring indie dream team Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams.

But enough about the films, let's talk red carpet.

Javier Bardem will likely be making an appearance, as he stars in the Spain-set Biutiful, while Juliette Binoche will lend some elegance to the affair as the leading lady of Certified Copy.

In addition to Burton, Kate Beckinsale and Benicio Del Toro are on the competition jury, so expect some French Riviera sightings of them. And Kristin Scott Thomas serves as the fest's emcee (you didn't know it had an emcee? Now you do), so her and her fashions can expect plenty of camera time.

Rounding out the stars expected to be in attendance are Mexican cutie Diego Luna, whose directorial debut, Abel, has secured a special screening during the festival, while Bond babe Gemma Arterton stars in Stephen Frears' graphic novel adaptation Tamara Drewe.

The festival runs from May 12 to 23. As it stands, 46 features have been selected to screen, with 16 of those films (from 13 countries) taking part in the competition portion of the fest. Here's the complete list of films in the running for the coveted Palme d'Or:

• Another Year, Mike Leigh (U.K.)
• Biutiful, Alejandro González Iñárritu (Spain-Mexico)
• Burnt by the Sun 2, Nikita Mikhalkov (Germany-France-Russia)
• Certified Copy, Abbas Kiarostami (France-Italy-Iran)
• Fair Game, Doug Liman (U.S.)
• Hors-la-loi, Rachid Bouchareb (France-Belgium-Algeria)
• The Housemaid, Im Sang-soo (South Korea)
• La nostra vita, Daniele Luchetti (Italy-France)
• La Princesse de Montpensier, Bertrand Tavernier (France)
• Of Gods and Men, Xavier Beauvois (France)
• Outrage, Takeshi Kitano (Japan)
• Poetry, Lee Chang-dong (South Korea)
• A Screaming Man, Mahamat-Saleh Haroun (France-Belgium-Chad)
• Tournee, Mathieu Amalric (France)
• Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Spain-Thailand-Germany-U.K.-France)
• You, My Joy, Sergey Loznitsa (Ukraine-Germany)


The winner of this year's fest will undoubtedly be coming soon to a theater near you. Check out which other not necessarily award-winning films are heading your way with a look through our Movies From the Future! gallery.

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