Quentin Tarantino and Gus Van Sant are among the directors vying for the top prize at the 60th Cannes Film Festival.
Quentin Tarantino won the Palme d'Or with Pulp Fiction in 1994
Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai, who headed last year's Cannes jury, is also in the running with his first English language film, My Blueberry Nights.
The prestigious event has unveiled the line-up ahead of its opening on 16 May.
Tarantino's Death Proof, half of his double bill Grindhouse, and Van Sant's Paranoid Park join 20 other entries in competition for the Palme d'Or.
The Coen brothers are among the contenders with their latest thriller, No Country For Old Men.
And several high-profile films will receive their premieres out of competition.
US director Michael Moore, who won the Palme d'Or in 2004 for Fahrenheit 9/11, returns with his new documentary Sicko, about the US healthcare system.
Michael Winterbottom's film about the murder of US journalist Daniel Pearl, A Mighty Heart, starring Angelina Jolie, is also out of competition.
George Clooney is expected to be among the US stars at Cannes
Hollywood glamour at the famous French festival will come courtesy of Stephen Soderbergh's Ocean's 13.
The film's stars - Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Catherine Zeta Jones, Matt Damon and Al Pacino - are all expected to attend a gala screening.
In the Palme d'Or contest, Tarantino will be hoping to emulate his 1994 triumph with Pulp Fiction, while Van Sant's Paranoid Park tells the story of a teenage skateboarder who accidentally kills a security guard.
Van Sant also won the Palme in 2003 with Elephant.
Wong Kar Wai's road trip movie My Blueberry Nights stars Norah Jones, Jude Law, Rachel Weisz and Natalie Portman.
Emir Kusturica, who has won the Palme twice before, could be a third-time winner with Promise Me This, an offbeat story about an old Serbian man who prays his son will find a wife.
"For the anniversary we chose to mix heritage with modernity, well-known names and new blood," Giles Jacob, the president of the festival, told a Paris news conference.
Several little-known film-makers are nominated this year, including Iranian Marjane Satrapi, South Korean Lee Chang-Dong and Fatih Akin, who is from Germany but of Turkish heritage.
Roman Polanski and other directors have made special short films
The French are represented by Christopher Honore's Les Chansons d'Amour.
But there were no nominations for British film-makers, although British director Stephen Frears is chairing the Cannes jury, who decide the winner.
He is joined by eight others, including Australian actress Toni Collette and Nobel Prize-winning author Orhan Pamuk.
A series of short films by top film-makers will also be shown together to celebrate the festival's 60th anniversary.
Roman Polanski, the Coen brothers, Ken Loach, Lars Von Trier, Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu and Jane Campion are among those making three-minute films on the theme of going to the cinema.
Last year's Palme d'Or went to The Wind that Shakes the Barley by British director Ken Loach.