’re drawing nearer to the finalization of the 2007 Cannes Film Festival’s in-competition, out-of-competition and un certain regard selections, and, as has been the case since the early 90s, the program directors are busily lining up some big names to ensure ample publicity and excess whining from critics who remember when Cannes used to be about the films – like back in 1986 when Roland "Captivity" Joffe’s The Mission took the Palme d’or over Down by Law, After Hours and Mona Lisa.

The big catch for this year’s fest, as far as geeks go, is Chris Weitz’s scorchingly anticipated adaptation of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass. New Line, which may be the pioneer of the Cannes sneak (they made a splash in 2001 by unveiling twenty-five minutes of The Fellowship of the Ring), is planning to dazzle audiences with select scenes of the lavishly produced fantasy film, the set of which Devin visited back in January. I’m hoping for the best, though I was much more excited when Tom Stoppard was the sole credited screenwriter.

As has been expected, Cannes faves Joel and Ethan Coen will be returning with their adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men, which represents the brothers’ seventh film to screen in competition. And has it been six years? It has? That means it’s time for a new James Gray movie! The deliberate auteur of Little Odessa and The Yards will get his second crack at Cannes glory with his Russian Mafia melodrama, We Own the Night, which reunites The Yards‘ stars Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Wahlberg while adding the marginally talented Robert Duvall into the mix.

Finally, Martin Scorsese, who won the 1976 Palme d’or for Taxi Driver (take that, Stallone!) will be this year’s guest of honor, which means he ain’t buying a drink in France for a two whole weeks! There was speculation that his forthcoming Rolling Stones documentary might show up for an out-of-competition screening, but Variety reports that it’ll only be up for sale at the market.

The rest of the Cannes lineup will come into focus over the next week or so. David Fincher’s excellent Zodiac is favored to be the closing night film, while new works from Woody Allen, Todd Haynes, Gus Van Sant and Paul Thomas Anderson could turn up as well. It’s also possible that a few non-American movies might get squeezed into the competition slate.