Forget the Oscars. Pound for pound, the Cannes Film Festival is the most glamorous massing of movie stars in the world. Come mid-May each year, the Croisette hosts not only Hollywood’s A-list but also the biggest stars from Western Europe, Asia, and Latin America. But even with all the glitz surrounding the 11-day fest, no small number of important movies make their world premiere at Cannes, from The Artist and Midnight in Paris to The Tree of Life in 2011 alone. And though director Paul Thomas Anderson has decided not to unveil his controversial quasi-biopic The Master, said to have been inspired by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, a host of smart, eagerly anticipated movies—featuring Brad Pitt (Killing Them Softly), Shia LaBoeuf, and Tom Hardy (Lawless), Kristen Stewart (On the Road), Robert Pattinson (Cosmopolis), Nicole Kidman (The Paperboy), and Reese Witherspoon (Mud), among others—are set to bow with the festival’s Wednesday kick-off. See our top picks.