The main competition for the Cannes Film
Festival is only just drawing to a close, but already the talk in the
movie business is about what films and actors could be on their way
to Los Angeles for the Oscars in eight months time.
As the world's leading film festival in the French Mediterranean resort town is often seen as a stepping stone to the Academy Awards set down for February. This year's Oscar winner, The Artist, emerged from Cannes.
But while many of the films vying for the top prizes in Cannes have fallen flat, a small clutch have stood out along with strong performances by several actors.
Among them, Amour by Austrian director Michael Haneke who took to main Palme d'Or prize in Cannes three years ago with The White Ribbon. The film was then nominated for Oscar for best foreign film.
His latest film is about an elderly couple trying to deal with a rapid decline in health and the prospect of death.
The 2011 Palme d'Or winner, Terrence Mallick's The Tree of Life was also nominated for an Oscar.
Marion Cotillard has already won an Oscar for her portrayal of French singer Edith Piaf in La Vie en rose.
Her performance as a killer whale trainer in Rust & Bone by French director Jacques Audiard, has fuelled talk along the Croisette - the boulevard that cuts through Cannes - that the Paris-born actress could return to the red carpet in LA next year.
With just days to go before the Cannes jury has to hand out the coveted Palme d'Or, the competition still appears wide open.
The jury headed by Italian filmmaker Nanni Moretti is believed to be considering Amour, Rust & Bone, along with a film by Cristian Mungiu. Beyond the Hills is about exorcism in the modern-day Orthodox church.
Five years ago, Mungiu became the first Romanian to win a Palme d'Or, for his exploration of daily life in Romania under Nicolae Ceausescu in 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days.
Another film screening in Cannes that might go on to be nominated for an Oscar is Moonrise Kingdom, US director Wes Anderson's quirky comedy about two 12-year-olds who fall in love.
Canadian director David Cronenberg might also walk off with one of the festival's coveted awards for Cosmopolis, starring Robert Pattinson as a jaded 28-year-old currency trader.
British director Ken Loach injected a light-hearted element into the festival with his comedy The Angel's Share about a whisky heist in Scotland. This year marked the 11th time that one of his films was selected for the main competition at Cannes.
Success at festivals such as Cannes does not always lead to an Oscar. Academy Award nominations are made by country.
French cult director Leos Carax could be in the running for an award Sunday, for his film Holy Motors about a man travelling through Paris and acting out various lives in the city.
The star of the film, Denis Lavant, is seen as a strong contender for the best actor award. He was featured in the film alongside US actress Eva Mendes and Australian pop star Kylie Minogue.
Other actors who have impressed audiences at Cannes are US actor Scoot Mcnairy, who played a small-time criminal in Killing Me Softly, which starred Brad Pitt.
Austrian Margarethe Tiesel also won plaudits for her performance as a sex tourist in Paradise: Love by Austrian director Ulrich Seidl.
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