Ocean’s Thirteen is going to Cannes so the festival can throw the spotlight on George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Al Pacino …fine. Nobody’s going to trash this latest Steven Soderbergh-er like The DaVinci Code or Marie Antoinette got trashed, even if it’s on the level of Ocean’s Twelve, which I have a special affection for because of the improvised Julia Roberts-pretending-to-be-Julia Roberts scene in the Rome hotel room with Bruce Willis.

I was just wondering why, in mid-March, Alison JamesVariety story about this didn’t veer into speculation about some likely (or somewhat likely) Cannes frontliners. Like the Toronto Star‘s Peter Howell did a month ago. Surely James has her sources and has heard a few things?

Howell assembled a list of Cannes-favored directors (i.e., men whose films have routinely been invited to the festival in years past) and simply cross-referenced it with their latest efforts which are slated to open in ’07.

I checked back with Howell yesterday morning, and he’s still betting on Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones being there this year — Dylan being the subject of Todd HaynesI’m Not There and the Stones having been portraited by Martin Scorsese in a “career-spanning documentary on the Rolling Stones, with concert footage from their ‘A Bigger Bang’ tour.”

I’m agreeing with Howell in half-expecting to see the following turn up in Cannes (and if they do it’ll he a hell of a festival): Paul Thomas Anderson‘s There Will Be Blood, Michael Moore‘s Sicko, Joel and Ethan Coen‘s No Country for Old Men (I read the excellent script for this last year — it told me the film could be Fargo-level), Hou Hsiao-hsien‘s The Red Balloon, Michael Haneke‘s Funny Games, Michael Winterbottom‘s A Mighty Heart (the murder of Daniel Pearl movie), Wong Kar Wai‘s My Blueberry Nights, Gus Van Sant‘s Paranoid Park, Hector Babenco‘s El Pasado and Ken Loach‘s These Times.

Howell says to scratch the Adam Sandler pic from the list in his 2.16. piece. (Alexander Payne co-wrote the screenplay, but the final version has been heavily “Sandlerized.”) And scratch David Cronenberg‘s Eastern Promises, which won’t be ready to show until the Toronto Film Festival in September.