Venice Film Festival 2012: The 10 Most-Anticipated Movies

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The Venice Film Festival kicks off Wednesday with a scaled-down 18-title competition lineup.

As always, some Hollywood big shots will be making the rounds, including Ben Affleck, Joaquin Pheonix, Kiefer Sutherland and Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

But a band of up-and-coming screen actors are among big draws this year, with stars like Zac Efron, Selena Gomez and Shia LeBeouf — looking to break away from movie musicals and blockbusters — on hand to promote their new films.

So what films are most anticipated of Venice?

The 69th edition of the famous fest, which was first held 80 years ago, runs from Aug. 29 to Sept. 8.

Celebuzz has the down-low on what films to look out for:

1. The Master
Perhaps the most talked-about premiere of Venice, Paul Thomas Anderson’s film tells the tale of a young drifter who founds a 1950s faith-based organization. The film — starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams — is said to be inspired by L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the Church of Scientology.

2. Passion
Brian De Palma’s erotic thriller is a remake of French thriller Love Crime, focusing on the complex relationship between a boss (Rachel McAdams) and her revengeful protégé (Noomi Rapace).

3. The Company You Keep
Produced and directed by Robert Redford, the political action thriller — an adaptation of a Neil Gordon novel — centers on a former Weather Underground activist who goes on the run from a journalist who has discovered his identity.

4. To the Wonder
Tree of Life director Terrence Malick makes a return with this romantic drama about an American (Ben Affleck) in Paris enters a hot-and-heavy affair with a European woman. But as the marriage falls apart, he rekindles a romance with his hometown love (Rachel McAdams).

5. Bella Addormentata
Helmer Marco Bellocchio tackles the theme of the right to live or die in a a drama set during the final six days of Eluana Englaro, a young woman who was left in a vegetative state for nearly two decades following a car accident.

6. (Apres Mai) Something In The Air
The French film, helmed by Olivier Assayas, is a 1960’s coming of age tale about a group of Parisian high schoolers who try to reconcile their personal aspirations the political struggle.

7. At Any Price
The adventure drama from Ramin Bahrani, starring Zac Efron and Dennis Quaid, sees the High School Music star step into a more serious role. Efron plays the rebellious Dean Whipple, who follows his dream of becoming a professional race car driver. But his ambitions are derailed after he gets dragged into a high-stakes investigation into his family’s business.

8. Bad 25
Spike Lee celebrates the 25th anniversary of Michael Jackson’s 1987 record album, Bad, in his newest documentary.

9. Spring Breakers
Selena Gomez says goodbye to her Disney darling image in Harmony Korine’s much-anticipated flick, which tells the tale of four college girls who party with a local thug (James Franco) during a wild getaway.

10. The Reluctant Fundamentalist
With a star-studded cast including Kate Hudson, Kiefer Sutherland and Liev Schreiber, Indian director Mira Nair brings this best-selling political novel to life on the big screen. The story chronicles the struggle of a young Pakistani man on Wall Street, who gets cause between chasing his American Dream, a hostage crisis, and loyalty to his homeland.

What new movie are you most looking forward to? Weigh in below.