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Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart and Chloë Grace Moretz in “Clouds of Sils Maria”

Olivier Assayas's latest is headlined by an eclectic trio: Binoche (centre), one of French cinema’s grande dames, plays an aging stage diva, while two US starlets, the sulky Stewart (left) and the precocious Moretz, make their first foray into European art cinema as her assistant and rival, respectively.
Photo: Les Films du Losange

Gaspard Ulliel in “Saint Laurent”

Playing French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent in Bertrand Bonello's biopic, Ulliel, a rising star who has receded somewhat from the public eye, steps back into the spotlight – and sets himself up for comparison with Pierre Niney, who earned raves in the same role earlier this year.
Photo: Europacorp

Julianne Moore in “Maps to the Stars”

Trailers for David Cronenberg’s twisted tale of family dysfunction and dashed Hollywood dreams suggest that the versatile American actress may have one of her juiciest roles yet as a fading movie star with serious mommy issues and a strange new personal assistant.
Photo: Le Pacte

Marion Cotillard in “Two Days, One Night”

Playing a woman fighting to keep her job in the new film from Belgian neo-realists Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, the French star, known for emotionally intense performances, could have her best shot yet at a Cannes acting prize.
Photo: Diaphana

Ryan Reynolds in “The Captive”

The Canadian actor has been more frequently noted for his pretty-boy looks, washboard abs and brief marriage to Scarlett Johansson than for his acting chops. But could his turn as a father searching for his missing daughter in Atom Egoyan’s latest puzzle be his breakthrough?
Photo: ARP Selection

Bérénice Bejo in “The Search”

After an Oscar nomination for “The Artist” and a Best Actress award at Cannes last year for “The Past”, Bejo has emerged as one of international cinema’s reigning leading ladies. Her new role as an NGO worker in husband Michel Hazanavicius’s drama could give her another shot at the prize podium.
Photo: La Petite Reine/La Classe Américaine/ Roger Arpajou

Hilary Swank in “The Homesman”

Swank is at her best in dramatic roles, guided by filmmakers with strong visions (as in Kimberly Peirce’s “Boys Don’t Cry” and Clint Eastwood’s “Million Dollar Baby”) - which bodes well for her turn as a devout pioneer woman in Tommy Lee Jones’s period western.
Photo: Dawn Jones

Timothy Spall in “Mr. Turner”

The portly British character actor has delivered jewel-like performances in several of Mike Leigh’s films. But Spall's lead role as English Romantic painter J.M.W. Turner in the director’s new movie could make him a frontrunner for the Best Actor prize at this year’s festival.
Photo: Diaphana

Steve Carell in “Foxcatcher”

One of America’s most beloved comedic goofballs, Carell looks to be going deeper and darker in Bennett Miller’s fact-based drama: he plays paranoid schizophrenic John du Pont, who killed Olympic wrestler Dave Shultz in 1996. The advance buzz on the performance is strong.
Photo: Mars Distribution

Anne Dorval in “Mommy”

After playing mom in Xavier Dolan’s début “I Killed My Mother”, the French-Canadian Dorval goes maternal again in the filmmaker’s “Mommy”. Dolan writes meaty parts for women – and this one, a widow raising a troubled teenage son, sounds like a promising showcase for Dorval.
Photo: MK2

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Cannes 2014: Performances to Watch