Nymphomaniac Vol II: Director’s Cut” (dir. Lars Von Trier)
Cast: Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellan Skarsgard, Stacy Martin, Jamie Bell, Shia LaBoeuf, Willem Dafoe
While we’d be hard pushed to name a single film that has had a more confusing release strategy than “Nymphomaniac” (two parts, each in two different versions, occasionally screened together but mostly not, with staggered worldwide release dates/festival bows), it has kept the conversation going. And Von Trier’s cut of Vol II may make it to Cannes just as the extended version of Vol I played Berlin--it’s just down to whether Cannes wants to get back in the Von Trier business. The two-time Palme D'Or winner stirred the pot with his “Persona Non Grata” Berlin T-shirt, but giving this cut an out of competition screening, (which is comparatively risk-free as it will already have played theaters in a different form) might be a good way to start to thaw out that relationship.

Retour a Ithaque” (dir. Laurent Cantet)
Cast: Jorge Perugorria, Isabel Santos, Fernando Hechevarria, Pedro Julio Diaz Ferran 
2008 Palme d’Or winner, for “The Class,” and director of the brilliant and beloved “Time Out” (2001) Laurent Cantet returned to Cannes, though to the Un Certain Regard section in 2012 as one of the directors of Cuba-set portmanteau film “7 Nights in Havana.” Since then he directed period-teen-female rebellion story “Foxfire” which was buzzed pre-TIFF ‘13 but failed to get a US release at all. But this film, which once again is set in Havana and follows the celebration of the return of a man who’d been in exile for 16 years, sounds like it could see him back on top form, and he does have home court advantage when it comes to Cannes...

On the Milky Road Bellucci

On The Milky Road” (dir. Emir Kusturica)
Cast: Emir Kusturica, Monica Belluci, Sloboda Micalovic, Natasa Ninkovic, Davor Janjic
Another filmmaker in the two-time Palme D’Or winner club, Serbian director Emir Kusturica, but his work since the second of the two, 1995’s “Underground,” has been rather less notable. Nevertheless, Kusturica remains a Croisette mainstay, and his latest, his first fiction feature in seven years, is a likely competition entrant this time around. The film, a three-part extrapolation of an earlier short by the director, is apparently on the theme of "kindness," with Kusturica himself taking the lead, alongside Monica Bellucci. The only potential stumbling block is a political one--Kusturica recently made the wrong kind of headlines for voicing support for President Putin’s actions in the Crimea, which may strike a sour note with organizers.

Far from the Madding Crowd” (dir. Thomas Vinterberg)
Cast: Carey Mulligan, Michael Sheen, Juno Temple, Tom Sturridge, Mathias Schoenaerts
The terrific “The Hunt” saw director Thomas Vinterberg back on top form, and back in the Cannes Competition for the first time since “The Celebration” picked up the Grand Jury Prize back in 1998. It scooped the Ecumenical prize and also a well-deserved Best Actor for Mads Mikkelsen, and also was nominated for a Foreign Film Oscar (shoulda won, imho). So between the director’s form and the very high-profile, Cannes-friendly cast, we can’t imagine this period adaptation of the Thomas Hardy novel about a woman courted by three suitors isn’t high on the list, assuming it’s ready. And it shot back in September of last year which will make it a tighter squeeze than some, but by no means impossible.

Ryan Gosling

How To Catch A Monster” (dir. Ryan Gosling)
Cast: Christina Hendricks, Matt Smith, Saoirse Ronan, Ben Mendelsohn, Iain De Caestecker, Eva Mendes

Mathieu Amalric, Jodie Foster, James Franco and Guillaume Canet are among the actors-turned-directors who’ve had films featured at the festival in recent years, and it could be that their ranks are joined this time around by Ryan Gosling--the star, who featured at the festival in “Drive” and “Only God Forgives,” has stepped behind the camera for odd fable “How To Catch A Monster,” and it could well be a dark horse to feature somewhere in the lineup. The film began shooting a year before the festival is due to take place, and so should be ready in time, and though first-time directors sometime struggle to break into the Competition line-up, it could be one to keep an eye on for the sidebar segments.

Bypass” (dir. Duane Hopkins)
Cast: George MacKay, Benjamin Dilloway, Donald Sumpter, Charlotte Spencer, Felicity Gilbert
It was rather overshadowed by other social realist filmmakers like Andrea Arnold at the time, but British filmmaker Duane Hopkins’ feature debut “Better Things” was a powerful and memorable piece of work back in 2008. Five years on, he’s followed it up with gritty thriller “Bypass,” which focuses on an ill young man who works as a small-time fence, and toplines rising star George MacKay (“Sunshine On Leith,” “How I Live Now”). Hopkins’ short “Field” screened at the festival in 2001, and “Better Things” was at International Critics’ Week in ’08, so look for Hopkins to move up--Competition seems unlikely, but this could well end up in Director’s Fortnight or Un Certain Regard.

Emma Stone Marcia Gay Harden Magic In The Moonlight

Magic In The Moonlight” (dir. Woody Allen)
Cast: Colin Firth, Emma Stone, Marcia Gay Harden, Jacki Weaver, Hamish Linklater
Woody Allen might have become a controversial figure in the U.S. again in the last few months, but it’s unlikely to mean that he’s any less of a favorite at Cannes—in the last decade, he premiered “Match Point,” “Vicky Christina Barcelona,” “You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger,” and “Midnight In Paris” at the festival. It’s three years since the latter picked up the best reviews he’d had in years, and with his new film also being a 1920s-set romantic comedy, and set on the French Riviera, it’d be natural to return to the area where he shot the film last July for the premiere. That said, with his last two skipping the festival, it could yet bypass the festival route, but it definitely feels like a good fit.

Free Fall” (dir. Giorgy Palfi)
Cast: Piroska Molnar, Reka Tenki, Zsolt Nagy, Zsolt Trill, Iren Bordan
With Bela Tarr supposedly retired, Hungarian cinema could use a new figurehead, and it might have arrived in the shape of Giorgy Palfi. The filmmaker’s second feature, “Taxidermia” made quite a splash at the festival back in 2006 as part of the Un Certain Regard section, and he was back at the festival with collage film “Final Cut” in 2012. His new film, “Free Fall,” sounds especially intriguing--it follows a woman who jumps off the roof of an apartment block, who gets glimpses into the lives of the inhabitants as she passes their windows on the way down. Palfi only shot the film in January, but has been planning a quick turnaround, and it’s expected to be complete by April, which should put him right in contention--perhaps even for a Competition slot?