Amour Haneke
"Love" - dir. Michael Haneke - Austria
Synopsis: Long term love will be put to the test when the elderly Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) suffers a paralyzing stroke, which affects both her husband George (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and daughter (Isabelle Huppert).
What You Need To Know: Once known as "These Two" and originally cancelled by the director when he saw a Canadian film with a similar premise (most likely Sarah Polley's "Away From Her"), the Austrian great finally got underway on the retitled "Love" last February. It's an exciting prospect for the veteran director to not only amass this kind of talent (a who's-who of French auteur cinema), but also to tackle a new topic thoroughly different, and seemingly more humanistic, from his mainstays of violence, media, and video/film, even if we're not exactly expecting it to be much more fun than "The White Ribbon." The film has already been picked up by Sony Pictures Classics, which bodes well, although the 2009 win for his last picture probably means he won't be in serious contention for the Palme d'Or this time around (acting prizes may be a better bet).

"Moonrise Kingdom"
Focus Features "Moonrise Kingdom"
"Moonrise Kingdom" - dir. Wes Anderson - USA
Synopsis: Set during the 1960s, a young boy and girl (Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward) run away together and their small New England town is turned upside down looking for them.
What You Need To Know: Though "Moonrise Kingdom" is technically Wes Anderson's first period piece, his films have always seemed set in an indeterminate point in history. Mixing disparate influences from Martin Scorsese to Satyajit Ray has always been part of the director's playbook, but no matter where he sets his stories -- a fairytale NYC, the high seas, a train in India -- they always seem to take place in diorama-like Anderson-land. His latest takes place on an island off the coast of New England during the 1960s and from the looks of what we've seen, will sit very close visually to his previous work, but also branch out into fresher territory with a coming-of-age story. While he's assembled perhaps his most star-studded cast since "The Royal Tenenbaums," including first-time Anderson colaborators Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton and Harvey Keitel alongside Anderson regulars Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman, the film will likely rest on the shoulders of its two young leads, and for a director often criticized with staying within his comfort zone, this sounds like a commendably risky move to us. After a bit of a career slide that saw audiences and critics starting to turn on their formerly celebrated auteur, Anderson put himself back on top with his stop-motion fable, "Fantastic Mr. Fox." From early buzz, it sounds like he might have reclaimed his live-action form too.

Matthew McConaughey Tye Sheridan Mud
Synopsis: An unlikely friendship is formed between a fugitive and a 14-year-old boy who helps him escape off an island in Mississippi, evade the law and bounty hunters, and reunite him with his sweetheart, Juniper.
What You Need To Know: “Mud” will see a director and a star each meeting at a high in both of their careers. Director Jeff Nichols is coming off a great year thanks to the excellent “Take Shelter,” and combined with the continuing word-of-mouth praise for his debut feature “Shotgun Stories” (a must-see), he is one of the most exciting new voices currently working. As for Matthew McConaughey, he’s been revitalized of late taking a diverse array of roles in films like “Bernie,” “Magic Mike,” and “Killer Joe” (he’s gonna have a helluva 2012), and this, which marks one of two films in competition at Cannes this year, is another leftfield choice from an actor suddenly challenging himself. Wrap that all up in a film described as a “fairytale about love” with supporting turns from Reese Witherspoon, “The Tree of Life” star Tye Sheridan and Nichols’ regular collaborator Michael Shannon, and it’s a recipe for something potentially delicious.

"No" - dir. Pablo Larrain - Chile
Synopsis: A black comedy centering on an ad executive's campaign to oust Augusto Pinochet in Chile.
What You Need To Know: For some reason the distribution deities haven't been kind to Pablo Larrain. Both "Tony Manero" and "Post-Mortem" were stark, harrowing and darkly funny movies cut from the same cloth of our favorite 1970s renegade new wavers, yet the former barely blipped in theaters and the latter only just made it into the U.S. last month. But with Gael García Bernal in tow and a picture described by producer Juan de Dios Larrain as "an epic David and Goliath story (and) a black comedy with attitude," this closing film in the director's Pinochet trilogy, which focuses on the 1988 referendum that finally got rid of the dictator, should be a rousing one, unlikely to be given the same short shrift as the others. It'll be interesting to see how much of Larrain's aesthetic survives with such an optimistic-sounding crowd pleaser, but we're excited at the prospect of him reaching a wider audience when he returns to the Directors' Fortnight, where "Tony Manero" premiered back in 2008.