05/15/2007 at 08:15 PM EDT
Giant movie posters line the Croisette, vacuums are whirring on the red carpet at the Grand Palais theater and the local hotels have jacked their rates sky high – all sure signs the Cannes Film Festival is about to launch.
The festival, which celebrates its 60th birthday this year, kicks off Wednesday night with the world premiere of My Blueberry Nights. Singer Norah Jones plays a waitress who hits the road, crossing paths with characters played by Jude Law and Rachel Weisz.
Nights is directed by festival favorite Wong Kar Wai, the Chinese director of such earlier international hits as Chungking Express and In the Mood for Love. And it's just the first of more than two dozen films I'll see in my week here. (I'm leaving early; the festival runs through May 27.)
Here are 10 other reasons I'm especially looking forward to Cannes this year:
1. The Return of the CoensThe Coen brothers – that would be Ethan and Joel – are debuting their latest film, No Country For Old Men. It's a crime drama starring Tommy Lee Jones and, based on the Coens' track record (Fargo, O Brother, Where Art Thou? and The Big Lebowski), I have high expectations.
2. Quentin Goes Solo Mr. Tarantino is showing his half of the Grindhouse double bill, the car-chase thriller Death Proof, as a solo film in competition for the festival's top prize, the Golden Palm. Will the global audiences show more patience with Tarantino's homage to the trashy exploitation flicks of his youth than American audiences did when the longer, two-movies-for-one version flopped stateside earlier this spring?
3. Angelina's Mighty HeartAs you've heard, Jolie plays Mariane Pearl, the wife of slain journalist Daniel Pearl, in A Mighty Heart. It could be a moving look at a brave woman caught up in tragic world events, or merely a high-wattage version of a Lifetime biopic.
4. Ocean's Third Time a Charm?George Clooney, Matt Damon and Brad Pitt reunite to make up for their critically panned sequel, this time joined by a sexy Ellen Barkin and the curiously blond Al Pacino. The film will have its premiere on May 24, and Ocean's opens wide in the U.S. on June 8.
5. Moore to LoveProvocateur Michael Moore is back in Cannes with Sicko, his new documentary about the ailing American healthcare system. Last time he was here was in 2004, when his controversial film Fahrenheit 9/11 won the Golden Palm. Sicko is showing out of competition; it opens in theaters in the U.S. on June 29.