Outside the Palais des Festivals today in Cannes. Photo by Eugene Hernandez

What are the ten most anticipated movies of this year's Cannes Film Festival? 

That's a tough choice because Cannes kicks off the always-rich second half of the movie year. It provides a preview of what's to come as well as a snapshot of the state of contemporary cinema. This year should be no different. By most accounts 2012 is pegged to be a big year at the festival. For months leading up to the April lineup announcement, fest watchers were predicting an all-star roster of auteurs this year. Check.

Such is typically the case at the 65-year-old film festival that begins tomorrow here in Cannes. It annually draws some 30,000 badge holders (and countless others) to the south of France for a generally glitzy, occasionally tacky two week excursion through many of the best and even a few of the worst movies you're likely to see anywhere this year.

Cannes offers two concurrent strands of moviegoing: a festival and a market. Programmers selected 22 titles that will screen in competition and about four dozen more feature films are shown in one of the sidebar sections. Thousands of journalists and industry attendees will cheer and jeer at daily screenings in the massive Palais des Festivals movie theaters. Meanwhile, in numerous other venues throughout the multi-story convention center, brokers from around the world curate their own event by screening all sorts of movies for sale to international buyers. There you can find top-notch films alongside B movies and straight to home video fare. Only in Cannes could Apichatpong Weerasethakul cross paths with Jean-Claude Van Damme. Market events spill out into (and onto) the various hotels, cafes and clubs throughout the seaside town. Fans and photographers gather in droves everywhere to punctuate the proceedings.

Outside the Carlton Hotel today in Cannes. Photo by Eugene Hernandez

In my previous life as Editor-in-Chief of Indiewire, I filed multiple articles daily from Cannes for more than a decade. This year I'll be writing a daily dispatch for FilmLinc.com and we'll publish contributions from others here and on the new FilmComment.com site. Catch our Cannes coverage in a special section here at FilmLinc.com.

Riding the TGV train this morning from Paris to the Cote D'Azur I finally sat down with the schedule for this year's Cannes festival and issued myself a challenge to pass the time. If I could catch only ten of the 70+ new feature films screening over the next two weeks in France, which ones would I watch?

Many of the movies that premiere here in Cannes will hit the fall festival circuit: Telluride, Venice, Toronto and our own New York Film Festival. A few will be the most talked about movies of the year and some may even go on to win Academy Awards. My list appears below but, lacking detailed information on the films, I've crafted it based on my own personal interest in the filmmakers and their recent work.

As I was scanning the roster I began to ponder the diversity of filmmakers on offer this year in Cannes. Some are young. Some are dead. As always, there are filmmakers from every corner of the globe. Yet, as recently discussed in some corners, there are strikingly few women with films anywhere in Cannes.

A pronounced lack of female-directed films is a fact facing Hollywood and international film culture. Women are apparently reaching film schools in proportions equal to their percentage in society, but they seemingly aren't graduating to feature filmmaking.

What's up with that?

More on the topic later this week. For now, onto my list:

1.   Carlos Reygadas: Post Tenebras Lux (Competition)

2.   Matteo Garrone: Reality (Competition)

3.   Lee Daniels: The Paperboy (Competition)

4.   Apichatpong Weerasethakul: Mekong Hotel (Out of Competition: Special Screening)

5.   Xavier Dolan: Laurence Anyways (Un Certain Regard)

6.   Candida Brady: Trashed (Out of Competition: Special Screening)

7.   Michel Gondry: The We and the I (Directors' Fortnight)

8.   Wes Anderson: Moonrise Kingdom (Competition: Opening Film)

9.   Walter Salles: On The Road (Competition)

10.   Pablo Stoll Ward: 3 (Directors' Fortnight)

Tsai Ming-Liang: Walker & João Pedro Rodgrigues: Manhã de Santo António (Critics' Week)

Which 10 movies are you most looking forward to from Cannes? Here's the list of films screening at the fest.

Eugene Hernandez is the Director of Digital Strategy at the Film Society of Lincoln Center (@filmlinc) and a founder of indieWIRE. Follow him on Twitter at @eug.

Get the latest daily FilmLinc coverage from Cannes in our special section.