(Lainey: I’m still catching up after flying overnight to Cannes. Trying to rush out a few new articles but let’s start first with Sarah’s Cannes preview since they’re all starting to arrive. I screen Moonrise Kingdom tonight. Attached - the cast at the photo call today.)

The Cannes Film Festival is always glamorous and Hollywood is always well represented, but this year seems particularly heavy on the star power, headed, of course, by the Brange. But festival favorites Takashi Miike, Dario Argento, and Ken Loach are all on the Croisette, and Walter Salles makes his long-awaited return, so even though this year feels particularly commercial, that Cannes brand of quality is still on display. Here’s a quick rundown of what’s happening on the Riviera this year.

Uber-competitive competition

This year’s competition lineup is pretty monster, mostly thanks to a slew of high-watt Hollywood names.  Brad Pitt—can we call him a Cannes regular?—reteams with his The Assassination of Jesse James director Andrew Dominik for Killing Them Softly, which is about a guy (Pitt) investigating a robbery at a gangland poker tournament. I think I’m the only person in the world who loved Jesse James, and not in a qualified, film-school way. I really love that movie and enjoy the hell out of watching it. With that pedigree, Killing Them Softly is one of my must-sees of 2012.

Wes Anderson makes his Cannes debut with the opening night selection, Moonrise Kingdom, which stars Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, Frances McDormand, Edward Norton and everyone’s favorite alien, Tilda Swinton. (See attached)

Matthew McConaughey has not one but two films in competition this year—that’s right, Wooderson is doubling down at Cannes—with Mud and Lee Daniels’ The Paperboy, also starring Zac Efron and Nicole Kidman. Mud is interesting to me because it’s directed by Jeff Nichols, who made the terrifyingly creepy Take Shelter last year. 2012: The year Matthew McConaughey rediscovered his career.

David Cronenberg eschews his usual TIFF stomping grounds for Cannes with his adaptation of Don DeLillo’s Cosmopolis, which, if you’ve been living under a rock, stars Robert Pattinson in a bid for some acting street cred.

The other half of young Hollywood’s power couple is at the festival too—Kristen Stewart accompanies Walter Salles’ On the Road adaptation. That should be a stand-out screening since last year’s best actress winner, Kirsten Dunst, is also in the film, as are Viggo Mortensen, Amy Adams, Garrett Hedlund, Tom Sturridge and Sam Riley.

John Hillcoat’s Lawless brings Shia LaBeouf back to Cannes, alongside Tom Hardy, and Jacques Audiard’s follow up to A Prophet, Rust and Bone, will give Lainey a shot at some Marion Cotillard face porn. (Lainey: THANK YOU!)

Michael Haneke, who won the Palme d’Or in 2009 for The White Ribbon, returns with the very Cannes-flavored Amour, about an elderly couple portrayed by legendary French actors Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emanuelle Riva. Not to be outdone, Korean director Hong Sang-soo makes his Cannes debut with In Another Country, which stars Isabelle Huppert, who headed the jury in 2009. Another previous Palme d’Or winner, Cristian Mungiu who in won in 2007 for 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, is back with Beyond the Hills. 4 Months is one of the biggest bummers of a film I’ve ever seen, and Hills, which focuses on Romania’s orthodox church, looks to be another bleak meditation on the sh*tpile of life. The Palme d’Or is always tough to predict but Haneke’s Amour is tailor-made for the Cannes crowd.

Regard and other feelings

The “Un Certain Regard” slate features a Cannes father/son combo with Brandon Cronenberg, son of David, making his directorial debut with Antiviral, a satirical look at celebrity culture.  Benh Zeitlin’s Sundance standout, Beasts of the Southern Wild and SXSW’s hip pick, Gimme The Loot, are both featured and Wild is starting to get the kind of early-summer buzz that propelled Winter’s Bone and The Hurt Locker to Oscar nominations. The featured out-of-competition screenings include the closing night film, Claude Miller’s Therese Desqueyroux, starring Audrey Tautou, Madagascar 3 (which was written by Noah Baumbach, a fact I cannot make sense of in my head), and the Nicole Kidman/Clive Owen HBO film, Hemingway and Gellhorn.

The midnight screenings include Takashia Miike’s manga adaptation The Legend of Love and Security, Dario Argento’s Dracula 3D and Franck Khalfoun’s remake of the horror classic Maniac, starring Elijah Wood as a serial killer. If you’re a fan of Asian action/kung fu movies, Miike is always worth your time, and Argento’s Dracula stars Rutger Hauer, who revived his B movie career with the delightful Hobo with a Shotgun. If Dracula is even half as enjoyable as Hobo, I’m in. And while Wood earned a lot of raised eyebrows for taking the serial killer turn, people forget he’s a good actor and, more importantly, is a bit of an odd duck who is suited to left-of-center roles. The midnight lineup at Cannes is limited, but it’s exceptionally strong this year.

And finally, there’s the Director’s Fortnight, a kind of ancillary festival-within-a-festival. It’s lead this year by Michel Gondry’s The We and the I, about a group of kids riding a bus and maybe traveling through time. Other interesting titles include Hur Jin-Ho’s Chinese adaptation of Dangerous Liaisons starring Zhang Ziyi (count me in), and Sightseers, from British viral video master Ben Wheatley, the director of last year’s genre hit Kill List.

Cannes 2012 is heavy on the glitz, and they’ve assembled a lineup that clearly wants to be relevant to the Oscar race later this year. And since they’re baiting that hook, I’ll bite. Mark it down—May 16, 2012, Sarah pencils in Matthew McConaughey for an Oscar nomination in 2013. (Lainey: Sarah’s a big ball hitter.)