Jude Law, Uma Thurman

George Pimentel/FilmMagic

Cannes 2011 tile

After last year's snooze fest, aka The Cannes That Time Forgot, anything would be an improvement.

Happily, the stars are back in full force for the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, with Robert De Niro heading a jury that also includes Jude Law and Uma Thurman. Not to mention the proverbial many more (see below).

Of course there are films that buzz and flicks to be sold over the next two weeks from the French Riviera. So to kick it all off, here are a fast five things to look for at this year's Festival:

VIDEO: See why France is so excited about their Woody

1. A Strong Start: Check this one off the list, because the Fest's opening film, Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris, (starring Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, and France's First Lady Carla Bruni) already wowed 'em at the festival opener (check out the trailer here). Whodathunk the French would love the Wood Man fawning over them? Oh yeah, right, everybody. But kudos for the festival organizers for playing to the home crowd, who love Woody almost as much as Americans used to.

2. A-List Avalanche: Things always go better when there's enough glitz to offset the cinema-for-cineaste's tone of this sometimes snooty festival. All the paparazzi and the fans (and, moment of honesty here, us) really care about is the glam-jamboree traffic jam that is the red carpet. So, yay! Things couldn't be better this year with stars including Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Penélope Cruz, Mel Gibson and Johnny Depp all set to walk the Cannes red carpet. 

3. Lady Gaga Surprise Appearance: Le Gaga is everywhere already, including giving this exclusive interview to E!, so we're guessing the rumor is true and that she'll be doing something outlandish on the Riviera—hopefully near the nude beach.

4. Oscar Bait? You Bet: Much beloved American auteur Terrence Malick (Badlands, Days of Heaven, The Thin Red Line), is back with the eagerly anticipated The Tree of Life, in which Pitt and Penn star in a '50s family saga. How eagerly anticipated is it? Well, it was slated to shine at Cannes last year before the notoriously futzy director pulled it to do some tinkering. As a result, the Oscar buzz is deafening before anyone has even seen the film. We can already picture Pitt and Penn battling each other for the Oscar, as well as top actor at this fest. (Cautionary note: Dang, after all the buildup, we hope this flick is watchable). But the best possible outcome for all involved? Stars winning, duh! 

5. Something Scandalous This Way Comes: We're not sure what the scandal du jour will be. Red carpet wardrobe malfunction? Over-served stars in late night altercation? Happily married celeb seen sneaking off of a porn-star yacht? But whatever it is, it'll be tough to top last year's big "winner": Passport losing, possibly boozin', court-hearing snoozin' Lindsay Lohan. We salute you Lindsay, not only for seemingly getting your life turned around, but also for being a tough act to follow!

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