Last year, silence truly was golden as the cast of The Artist established themselves as the hit of the festival without having to say, or bark, anything. Below is a rundown of the actors folks are buzzing about this year, out loud:

Matthias SchoenaertsMatthias Schoenaerts: The star of Belgian hit Bullhead leads Jacques Audiard’s Rust And Bone opposite Marion Cotillard in competition. Schoenaerts has been known at home for a while but Michael R. Roskam’s revenge drama Bullhead, which scored an Oscar nomination, also brought Schoenaerts the FIPRESCI prize for Best Actor in Palm Springs in January. Audiard is a star-maker, having helped Tahar Rahim hit with A Prophet and boosting the international career of Romain Duris with 2005’s The Beat That My Heart Skipped. Execs unrelated to the film call Schoenaerts’ performance in Rust & Bone “incredible.”

Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward: The kids at the center of Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom are something to be seen. At Wednesday’s press conference, Jared Gilman confirmed that since making the film “life has taken a turn for the better.” Moonrise is the sole credit on both Gilman and Hayward’s resumes, for now. In the film, the duo fall in love and run away together setting off a search during a storm that turns the community upside down. Focus Features’ Alison Thompson tells me Anderson found them after an extensive search involving hundreds of kids. Kara, who’s now 13, has been a member of Mensa since she was 9.

Susse Wold: The Grande Dame of Danish theater is making a return to film after a 27-year absence. The actress, who’s twice been knighted by Denmark’s queen – once for her theater work and once for her humanitarian efforts – stars in Thomas Vinterberg’s competition film The Hunt. She tells me she decided to come back to acting on screen because she’d been following the director ever since his 1995 short The Boy Who Walked Backwards and because she loved the story of The Hunt and her role in it. Wold plays a kindergarten manager who sets off a rumor mill that spreads through her small community and wreaks havoc with the life of a local man. “I do what I think I haven’t done before,” says Wold. “And, I’ve never done a part like this before. They always make me be queens and upper class women. That’s boring. It’s a relief not to be beautiful.”

Zac Efron: According to a foreign distributor who early on acquired Cannes competition film The Paperboy, Zac Efron “enters the acting big leagues” with his role in Lee Daniels’ follow up to Precious. Others say he’s a revelation. “He’s already done some good work that showed he was more than just a pretty face, but you definitely see it here,” says another exec. The Paperboy will be one of the most talked about films in Cannes with a cast that includes Nicole Kidman and Matthew McConaughey, who are both also getting great notices.