The annual announcement of the Cannes Film Festival line-up is one that usually instills a sense of awe, followed by searing jealousy. Never have we been more envious than this year, however, as the Croisette is gearing up for their hottest selection of films yet. So what can you expect from Cannes 2012? Well, here’s our top 15!

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15. The Angels’ Share

Dir. Ken Loach

Ken Loach does comedy? Cannes has a sense of humour? This Scottish crime caper from the KES director and his regular collaborator Paul Laverty should be a surprise charmer at this year’s festival. THE ANGEL’S SHARE is the story of a group of criminals who stumble on their biggest score yet when visiting a whiskey distillery, but expect to see some of that kitchen sink social realism too. It’s still a Loach film, after all.

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14. The Hunt

Dir. Thomas Vinterberg

His 2010 film SUBMARINO was one of the finest releases of that year though it went mostly unseen, however, Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg will be hoping for better luck with his newest effort THE HUNT. This story of how one white lie spreads through a tight-knit community causing a fiery witch-hunt to flourish stars the always brilliant, often overlooked Mads Mikkelson in the leading role.

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13. Like Someone in Love

Dir. Abbas Kiarostami

Dear God, not another ‘female student sells herself’ story, right? Well, not exactly. Abbas Kiarostami, whose CERTIFIED COPY is certified brilliance, is guaranteed to bring something fresh to the table for his Cannes entry this year. And something far better than SLEEPING fucking BEAUTY, I hope.

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12. Beyond the Hills

Dir. Cristian Mungiu

Action! Suspense! Thrills! Laughs! These are four things you can certainly expect not to see in Christian Mungui’s newest film. His first directorial work since the 2007 masterpiece 4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS, 2 DAYS is instead likely to be filled with monochrome photography and long takes as it tells the bleak story of two girls raised in an orphanage. But you can nonetheless count on it being one of the most powerful arthouse films of the year.

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11. Reality

Dir. Matteo Garrone

Making the leap from mafia warfare to reality TV isn’t something that most filmmakers would be able to pull off, but if Matteo Garrone really is the cinematic master he promised with GOMORRAH then we’ll definitely have a treat on our hands.

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10. Mud

Dir. Jeff Nichols

The TAKE SHELTER director returns to the sunny seaside of Cannes to prove that he’s one of the most exciting voices in American independent cinema. With MUD he tells the story of a 14 year old boy who forms a bond with a fugitive after helping him escape Manhattan and reunite with the love of his life. Already being referenced alongside STAND BY ME, this drama from Matthew McConaughey, Reese Withersoon and THE TREE OF LIFE’s Ty Sheridan will be one to keep an eye on. If only to see if McConaughey can keep his shirt on.

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09. You Haven’t Seen Anything Yet

Dir. Alain Resnais

One of the founding fathers of the French New Wave is still going at the ripe old age of 75. His finest work, NIGHT AND FOG and HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR, is way behind him now but you can bet your yellow press pass that he’s not lost his mad skillz. The film tells the story of a group of actors who gather at a deceased playwright’s house awaiting the reading of his will.

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08. The Paperboy

Dir. Lee Daniels

Bet you never thought Zac Efron would be gracing the Croisette, did you? The HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL star will be walking the red carpet alongside Nicole Kidman for the world premiere of THE PAPERBOY, an 80s set drama about a journalist’s murder investigation directed by the Oscar nominated helmer of PRECIOUS Lee Daniels.

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07. Love

Dir. Michael Haneke

Michael Haneke, the man behind THE WHITE RIBBON and FUNNY GAMES, makes his long-awaited return to filmmaking with LOVE, the story of a retired couple dealing with the aftermath of the wife’s stroke. The film will reunite him with the star of THE PIANO TEACHER and former Cannes jury president Isabelle Huppert and, as always with the pair, you can fully expect them to both bring on the LOLs. Okay, maybe not.

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06. Rust and Bone

Dir. Jacques Audiard

A PROPHET’s Audiard is back to drop some film-making bombs on the Cannes audiences with his latest effort RUST AND BONE in which Marion Cotillard takes the lead role. Critics attending the festival should invest in a good thesaurus early, because you’re going to need as many synonyms for ‘fucking awesome’ as you can find.

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05. On the Road

Dir. Walter Salles

Get your coffee mugs, cigarettes, horn-rimmed gigs and Ginsberg poetry at the ready because Walter Salles is dropping his adaptation of Jack Keroac’s ON THE ROAD at this year’s Cannes. The essential novel of the beatnik generation couldn’t be brought to life by anyone other than THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES’ director and its cast of Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund, Kirsten Dunst, Steve Buscemi, Viggo Mortenson and Kristen Stewart only add to the excitement. Well, okay, maybe not the last one…

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04. Cosmopolis

Dir. David Cronenberg

What better way for R-Patz to emerge from the Twilight franchise than pissing in limousines, getting down with hookers and hallucinating about the impending apocalypse all under the direction of David Cronenberg. From car crash erotica to sadomasochism, Cronenberg isn’t a man to shy away from controversy and COSMOPOLIS is shaping up to be his most provocative work yet. Paul Giamatti, Juliette Binoche, Jay Baruchel and Matheiu Amalric co-star.

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03. Moonrise Kingdom

Dir. Wes Anderson

Opening the festival is Wes Anderson’s latest work of off-beat art MOONRISE KINGDOM in which Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton and even Bruce fucking Willis inhabit the population of an American island searching for two lovestruck runaways. It already promises to be a sheer delight.

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02. Lawless

Dir. John Hillcoat

John Hillcoat directs, Nick Cave writes and Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Guy Pearce and Jessica Chastain star. This prohibition era drama based on the novel The Wettest County In The World is like film-making’s answer to The Avengers, and there’s no doubt in my mind that this incredible team will make LAWLESS heavily in contention for the Palme D’Or.

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01. Killing Them Softly

Dir. Andrew Dominik

He’s back. The director of the greatest film ever made, THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES, returns to the big screen at last for the crime drama KILLING THEM SOFTLY. Brad Pitt is his lead actor once again, playing a professional enforcer who investigates a heist at a mob poker game, and Sam Shepard and Garret Dillahunt also re-unite with Dominick. Alongside them are James Gandolfini, Richard Jenkins and Ray Liotta. Prepare to be stunned.