Movies by US director Steven Soderbergh, Nicolas Winding Refn of Denmark and Italy's Paolo Sorrentino are among the films vying for the coveted Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, organisers said on Thursday.
The announcement is the starting gun for the prestigious French Riviera movie fest that will be held next month.
Soderbergh's eagerly-awaited "Behind the Candelabra," with Michael Douglas and Matt Damon, recounts the life of flamboyant pianist-entertainer Liberace, who masked his homosexuality from public view.
Another much-anticipated film is Refn's "Only God Forgives," starring Ryan Gosling in a gangland thriller set in Bangkok, while Sorrentino's "The Great Beauty" is about an ageing writer who recounts the twists and turns of his life.
Also making the cut is "Inside Llewyn Davis" by the Coen Brothers, starring Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan and Justin Timberlake in a tale about a singer-songwriter in the 1960s folk scene in New York.
Around 1,700 films were submitted for the 11-day event but only 50 or so will be given an official berth.
Cannes is famed for its top-grade celebrities, glitzy parties and luxury yachts, its launch of filmmakers such as Steven Soderbergh and Quentin Tarantino and the spotlight it turns on obscure directors and quirky or provocative movies.
It's a "temple that's really important to protect the more adventurous filmmaking that's going on around the world", Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle told AFP in Paris earlier this week.
It is also a huge market place where producers come to cut deals with distributors hungry for a slice of the next big movie event.
Twelve years after Baz Luhrmann's "Moulin Rouge!" opened the 2001 festival, the Australian's latest film, "The Great Gatsby," will do the opening honours
on May 15 with Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan in a remake of the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel.
Jerome Salle's film "Zulu", starring Oscar winner Forest Whitaker and Orlando Bloom, will bring proceedings to a close on May 26.
"Gatsby" will be screened out of competition on the same day as it is released in France.
Set on the US East Coast of the Roaring Twenties, DiCaprio stars as Fitzgerald's mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby, battling to win the heart of Daisy, a girl he courted in his youth, played by Mulligan.
"Zulu", meanwhile, is set in Cape Town against the background of a South Africa still overshadowed by apartheid, where affluent suburbs rub shoulders with dirt-poor townships.