Woody Allen, Cate Blanchett, Matthew McConaughey at Cannes?

Woody Allen, Cate Blanchett, Matthew McConaughey at Cannes?

PARIS - With the Cannes Film Festival set to open in just over a month's time, speculation is swirling over which films - and which top directors and actors - could be getting their moment under the French Riviera sun.

Woody Allen is seen as more than likely to be walking the red carpet with his new flick, "Irrational Man", starring Joaquin Phoenix.

Cate Blanchett might also be along for her movie "Carol". And fellow Oscar-winner Matthew McConaughey could appear for "The Sea of Trees" the latest film by director Gus Van Sant, which also stars Naomi Watts.

Cannes's organisers jealously guard their selections for the competition line-up and the out-of-competition programme until a month before the film fest opens.

This year, the movies to be shown at Cannes will be announced on April 16, and the festival will run from May 13 to 24.

A cocktail of cinema 

The organisers have a dizzying task in choosing which movies make the cut, wading through some 1,800 films to winnow them down to short lists.

The director of the festival, Thierry Fremaux, said last week that "there is no more than a third of the selection definitively decided".

He added that he and his selection committee "watch the movies right to the end".

Cannes mixes international arthouse cinema, Hollywood blockbusters, extravagant parties, industry wheeling and dealing, and eye-catching publicity stunts in a potent cocktail that has made it the pre-eminent global showcase for movies.

 'Fury Road'

So far the only movie confirmed to be screened is "Mad Max: Fury Road". The dystopian sci-fi movie, the fourth in the high-action "Mad Max" franchise and the first to star British actor Tom Hardy in the title role, will be shown out of competition on May 14 just before its worldwide release.

"Fury Road" co-stars Charlize Theron, who is expected to saunter up the red-carpeted steps. She could put on another dress and put in another appearance for "The Last Face", a film she is in that is directed by Sean Penn and also stars Javier Bardem.

"Harry Potter" actress Emma Watson and "Boyhood" star Ethan Hawke might be along if "Regression", by Spanish director Alejandro Amenabar (who made "The Others", "The Sea Inside") is selected.

Then there's Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz in the "The Lobster", a sci-fi tale financed with Irish money and directed by Greece's Yorgos Lanthimos. Or Jesse Eisenberg, Gabriel Byrne and Isabelle Huppert in "Louder Than Bombs" by Norwegian filmmaker Joachim Trier.

Asia anticipation

Italy's flag could flutter over "Mia Madre", the most recent picture by Nanni Moretti who won Cannes's top prize the Palme d'Or in 2001, or maybe "La Giovinezza" by Paolo Sorrentino, whose "Grande Bellezza" ("The Great Beauty") won a foreign picture Oscar last year.

Asia, as always, is expected to be well represented.

Thailand's Apichatpong Weerasethakul has just completed a romance, "Love in Khon Kaen", which might screen. Taiwan's Hou Hsiao-hsien, a competition veteran, has a good chance with martial arts picture "The Assassin".

Finally, of course, Cannes always has a soft spot for French productions.

While directors Jacques Audiard or Arnaud Desplechin might screen their latest films, much attention is being thrown on "The Little Prince", a big-budget French animation directed by US filmmaker Mark Osborne that adapts the famous novel by Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

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