Robert De Niro will be in charge of awarding the top prize at this year's Cannes Film Festival, whose official selection was announced today. Of the 19 slated for competition, the big contenders for the prestigious Palme d'Or are Terrence Malick’s pseudo-sci film The Tree of Life with Brad Pitt, pictured, and Sean Penn, Pedro Almodovar’s La piel que habito (The Skin I Live In) starring Antonio Banderas as a plastic surgeon on a hunt for his daughter’s rapist, and We Need to Talk About Kevin, an adaptation of Lionel Shriver's novel, starring Tilda Swinton and John C. Reilly. De Niro is head of the festival's nine-member jury.

The 12-day event begins May 11 and showcases some of the best films from around the world prior to their commercial releases. Some of the "out of competition" films are also drumming up some serious buzz for their big name directors and star-studded casts: Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris (Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, cameo by French president Nicolas Sarkozy's wife Carla Bruni), Rob Marshall's Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, and Jodie Foster’s The Beaver, featuring none other than Man of the Year Mel Gibson.

Of course, Cannes is also known for catapulting up-and-coming actors into mainstream success, and giving indie cred to box office darlings. We suspect we'll hearing more about Jessica Chastin from The Tree Of Life, a slowly-rising star who's got three films coming out this year, and Dennis Hopper's son Henry Hopper, who appears in Gus Van Sant's Restless with Schuyler Fisk and it-girl Mia Wasikowska.

Will we see some rising stars being admitted to the elite A-list club? Because we've heard Mel Gibson's spot may be up for grabs.