Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart—Cannes Awash in Celebrity Couples

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By Annlee Ellingson

With last week’s release of the official film lineup of Festival de Cannes comes speculation about which celebrities will grace the most glamorous red carpet in the world. Headlining cinema fans’ anticipation are Cannes regulars Brad Pitt, bride-to-be Angelina Jolie and her reportedly $500,000 diamond ring in one of their first public appearances since their long-awaited engagement earlier this month.

Pitt is starring in “Killing Them Softly” as the point man for a hit man who investigates the heist of his mob employer’s assets. The film also stars James Gandolfini, Richard Jenkins, Ray Liotta and Sam Shepard and is helmed by Pitt’s “Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” director Andrew Dominik.

Also vying for the spotlight at Cannes will be the “Twilight” generation’s most famous couple, Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, both of whom have films by veteran arthouse directors playing in the festival. Pattinson stars in David Cronenberg’s “Cosmopolis,” an adaptation of Don DeLillo’s 2003 novel about a 28-year-old billionaire who traverses Manhattan in search of a haircut, encountering myriad characters and losing a fortune over the course of the day. Jay Baruchel, Paul Giamatti, Samantha Morton and Juliette Binoche also appear.

Meanwhile, Stewart stars in Walter Salles’ adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” as Marylou, the linchpin in a love triangle between Sal (i.e., Kerouac, played by Sam Riley) and Dean (i.e., Neal Cassady, played by Garret Hedlund). Also in the cast are Kirsten Dunst, Viggo Mortensen, Amy Adams, Alice Braga, Steve Buscemi, Elisabeth Moss and Terrence Howard.

Another newly engaged celebrity couple who will likely make an appearance at Cannes is Matthew McConaughey and his Brazilian model fiancée Camila Alves, as he has two films playing at the fest. McConaughey stars in “Mud,” Jeff Nichols’ follow-up to “Take Shelter,” as a fugitive whom two boys help escape from a Mississippi island. Reese Witherspoon co-stars and may appear on the red carpet with a blooming baby bump and her husband Jim Toth, co-head of CAA’s motion picture talent division. Also keep an eye out for Michael Shannon, Sarah Paulson and, in another Cannes role, Sam Shepard.

In addition, director Lee Daniels follows up “Precious” with “The Paperboy,” in which McConaughey stars as a reporter investigating a murder case with his younger brother (Zac Efron) in order to exonerate a man on death row, played by John Cusack. Look for Nicole Kidman with her country-music star husband Keith Urban on that red carpet as well.

Kidman also stars in Philip Kaufman’s “Hemingway & Gellhorn” as Martha Gellhorn, a World War II correspondent who served as the inspiration for Ernest Hemingway’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and was the only woman to ever ask him for a divorce. Clive Owen co-stars as Papa, and Parker Posey and Robert Duvall also appear.

Cannes kicks off with a parade of A-list and indie stars in the fest’s opening-night film, Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom,” about a pair of adolescent lovers who flee their New England town, launching an all-out canvass of the area. In the search party are Bruce Willis (likely with wife and new mom Emma Heming on his arm), Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand and Jason Schwartzman.

And the festival’s closing-ceremony selection, Claude Miller’s “Thérèse Desqueyroux,” stars French darling Audrey Tautou as an unhappily married suburban wife in just one of several high-profile premieres featuring Gallic celebrities. Also on the program is Sylvie Verheyde’s “Confession of a Child of the Century” starring Charlotte Gainsbourg.

Director Jacques Audiard (“A Prophet”) returns to Cannes with “De rouille et d’os” (“Rust & Bone”), a romance that stars Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts (star of foreign-language Oscar nominee “Bullhead”) as a killer-whale trainer and her unemployed lover. This year’s fest marks a rematch between Audiard and Michael Haneke, whose “The White Ribbon” beat out “A Prophet” for the Palme d’Or in 2009.

Haneke’s film in the 2012 edition of Cannes is “Amour” (“Love”), about an elderly couple whose relationship is tested when the wife suffers an attack that paralyzes one side of her body. Isabelle Huppert, who served as president of the 2009 Cannes jury that awarded Haneke’s film the top prize, stars. Huppert also toplines “Da-reun na-ra-esuh” (“In Another Country”) from South Korean director Sang-soon Hong.

More celebs to keep an eye out for: Eva Mendes and Kylie Minogue, starring in “Holy Motors,” about a man who travels among parallel lives, Leos Carax’s first feature since 1999’s “Pola X”; Tom Hardy, Guy Pearce, Gary Oldman, Shia LaBeouf, Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowska in John Hillcoat’s follow-up to “The Road,” the Depression Era-set crime drama “Lawless,” about a bootlegging gang; Mads Mikkelsen in Dogme 95 director Thomas Vinterberg’s “Jagten” (“The Hunt”); Josh Hutcherson and Daniel Brühl in “7 Days in Havana,” which has one director for each day of the week, including Benicio Del Toro and Gaspar Noé.

Finally, screening out of competition is American animated flick “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted,” which features a voice cast of Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith (perhaps appearing on the arm of husband Will Smith) and Sacha Baron Cohen, and “Dario Argento’s Dracula,” a 3-D event naturally starring the Italian horror director’s daughter Asia Argento, marking their sixth collaboration.