David Cronenberg deconstructs Hollywood, Tommy Lee Jones goes Western and reclusive New Wave legend Jean-Luc Godard returns in 3D in films competing at next month's Cannes Film Festival.

Organizers of the famed Riviera festival announced the much-heralded lineup Thursday for the May 14-25 event, including 18 films vying for the top prize — the Palme d'Or.

Contenders for the Palme d'Or at 2014 Cannes Film Festival

  • Sils Maria, dir. Olivier Assayas.
  • Saint Laurent, dir. Bertrand Bonello.
  • Kis Uykusu (Winter's Sleep), dir. Nuri Bilge Ceylan.
  • Maps to the Stars, dir. David Cronenberg.
  • Deux Jours, Une Nuit (Two Days, One Night), dir. Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne.
  • Mommy, dir. Xavier Dolan.
  • Captives (The Captive), dir. Atom Egoyan.
  • Adieu au Langage (Goodbye to Language), dir. Jean-Luc Godard.
  • The Search, dir. Michel Hazanavicius.
  • The Homesman, dir. Tommy Lee Jones.
  • Futatsume No Mado (Still the Water), dir. Naomi Kawase.
  • Mr. Turner, dir. Mike Leigh.
  • Jimmy's Hall, dir. Ken Loach.
  • Foxcatcher, dir. Bennett Miller.
  • La Meraviglie, dir. Alice Rohrwacher.
  • Timbuktu, dir. Abderrahmane Sissako.
  • Relatos Salvajes (Wild Tales), dir. Damian Szifron.
  • Leviathan, dir. Andrey Zvyagintsev.

Also competing for the top prize are two women directors, Naomi Kawase of Japan and Alice Rohrwacher of Italy; The Artist director Michel Hazanavicius of France, Britain's Mike Leigh and Ken Loach, and Belgium's Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, who will be angling for their third Palme d'Or.

But Cannes is about far more than just the top award. Some 49 feature-length films from 28 nations — including 15 by women directors — will be shown at the 11-day cinema extravaganza.

"It is important for us that the Cannes selection is a voyage through cinema, and the world," Director-General Thierry Fremaux said.

Director Jane Campion, the only woman to win the Palme d'Or, is leading this year's jury festival, which opens with Nicole Kidman starring in the world premiere of director Olivier Dahan's out-of-competition biopic Grace of Monaco.

In the Palme d'Or chase, Cronenberg's Maps to the Stars takes aim at today's media-crazed society, while Jones directs and acts in The Homesman alongside Hilary Swank and Godard presents his movie Adieu Au Language (Goodbye to Language).

Canadians in Cannes

Along with Cronenberg, Canadian filmmakers headed to La Croisette in competition include fellow Torontonian Atom Egoyan (for The Captive) and Quebec's Xavier Dolan (for Mommy). It is the first time ever that three Canadian films have screened in competition in the same year.

“This year’s Cannes festival is truly a monumental occasion for Canadian filmmakers,” Telefilm Canada executive director Carolle Brabant said in a statement.

“This is the strongest presence we’ve ever had, and a true testament to the exceptional vision and tremendous artistry of our country’s filmmakers. Canadians should feel very proud.”

The Captive

Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds stars in Atom Egoyan's The Captive, a psychological thriller and mystery that revolves around the kidnapping of a man's young daughter. (Queen of the Nights Films/Eone Films)

Egoyan has had more films accepted at Cannes than any other Canadian, with kidnap drama The Captive being his eighth film to land at the festival.

"What fascinates me is the study of three intimate relationships — between the parents, between the detectives, between the captor and the captive," Egoyan said of the film in a statement. "In fact, everyone in this film is captive to some aspect of their past colliding with the present."

Meanwhile, young star Dolan, 25, has had earlier films screen at Cannes, but never in the coveted competition lineup.

"I've been a fan of the Cannes Film Festival for a long time and I've seen lots of heroes of mine make their way through... so seeing Mommy as a part of the official competition is proof of, I guess, achievement and I'm extremely flattered and honoured. Those are obvious words, but they are true," he told reporters in Montreal on Thursday.

"Being in competition with Atom Egoyan and David Cronenberg is of course a huge thing for me," he added. "It's an honour to be in these gentlemen's company."

Canadian director Dean DeBlois made the out-of-competition slate with his animated feature How To Train Your Dragon 2, the followup to his Oscar-nominated feature about a boy and his loyal pal.

Canadian actor Ryan Gosling makes his directorial debut among the 19 films competing for the Un Certain Regard prize, presented a day before the Palme d'Or to honor up-and-coming or innovative filmmakers.

Gosling's Lost River stars Christina Hendricks and will be up against films from Italy's Asia Argento, France's Mathieu Amalric and Paris, Texas director Wim Wenders of Germany.

Adding to the international tilt, Chinese actress Gong Li returns to the Cannes red carpet in Zhang Yimou's Coming Home, screening out of competition.

Cannes bosses took some flack two years ago after no film by any female director was in the competition. Director-General Thierry Fremaux said at the time that cinema needed to give "greater space" to women, and not just at Cannes.

This year's festival poster features a black-and-white photo of the late Italian actor Marcello Mastroianni — a conscious choice of a male following criticism that past posters featuring women had unfairly objectified them, Fremaux said.

Last year, in a first, the Palme d'Or was shared by two actresses for Blue is the Warmest Color along with its director.

Mia Wasikowska and Julianne Moore, Maps to the Stars

Mia Wasikowska (left) and Julianne Moore appear in David Cronenberg's new film Maps to the Stars. (eOne Films)

With files from CBC News