If you ask me the coolest-sounding competitors in the official 2013 Cannes Film Festival slate, announced in Paris five or six hours ago, are Alexander Payne‘s Nebraska, Joel and Ethan Coen’s Inside Llewyn Davis, Takashi Miike‘s Wara No Tate, Steven Soderbergh‘s Behind The Candelabra — the latter a surprise inclusion in the competition slate — and Roman Polanski‘s Venus in Fur.

I’m also especially keen to see four out-of-competition titles — Guillame Canet‘s Blood Ties, James Toback’s Seduced and Abandoned, Stephen FrearsMuhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight and J.C. Chandor‘s All Is Lost (Robert Redford doing a variation on Spencer Tracy in The Old Man and The Sea?). And Sofia Coppola‘s The Bling Ring, of course, which will kick off Un Certain Regard.

I’m taking credit for being the only person predicting that Toback’s doc would be part of this festival in some capacity (which I posted on 4.6). I’m not aware that anyone else in the entire world even toyed with this possibility. Full disclosure: Toback told me his film was in but that I couldn’t mention it until the official announcement so I “predicted” instead.

I’m not that interested in Nicolas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives, a competition selection, as early footage indicates an extremely fetishy ultra-violent tribute to Asian action-machismo, and as such will quite possibly feature swollen eyes, litres of spilt blood, swords, disembowelings, slicings, possible finger-and-toe choppings and you name it. I’m not trying to be a kneejerk contrarian but Ryan Gosling‘s pecs stained with dried blood and perhaps a speck or two of brain matter…later.

I was going to stay up until 2 or 3 am to file a Johnny-on-the-spot piece but eff that. I willfully screw up my sleep schedule for no man and no festival.

Payne’s Nebraska being part of the competition slate puts a nice juicy strawberry on top of the short cake and whipped cream — just what I needed and wanted.

Yesterday’s bogus leak slate was imagined, yes, but it wasn’t too far off the mark either — substitute a competition title or two and the only discredited predictions are Jim Jarmusch‘s Only Lovers Left Alive, Luc Besson‘s Malavita, David Gordon Green‘s Joe and one or two others. It’s significant that it forecasted Nebraska, I think, when certain handicappers (such as Deadline‘s Nancy Tartaglione) were predicting that Payne’s film would more likely play Telluride/Toronto.

I’m still trying to understand why James Gray‘s The Immigrant had been referred to in some quarters as The Lowlife. Was the more intriguing-sounding The Lowlife the initial choice or vice versa? Update: What does it matter? The point is that when a title switches around a lot it tends to mean something.

We all knew that Asghar Farhadi‘s Le Passe would be among the competition films but it’s good to have this confirmed.

I have to start boning up on the two Polanski films that will be shown during the fest — Venus in Fur and a special showing of Weekend of a Champion. I don’t know squat about either of them when you get right down to it.

My “Dream Cannes” picks would have include Paul Greengrass‘s Captain Phillips (why not?), Steve McQueen‘s 12 Years A Slave, Jason Reitman‘s Labor Day (which was test screened two or three months ago), Spike Lee‘s Oldboy and one of the two Terrence Malick films (Knight of Cups and the other one) that are still in editing and will probably remain there for another several months if not a year-plus.

Nobody in the U.S. press ensemble will express much enthusiasm much about Baz Luhrman‘s The Great Gatsby as it will have opened commercially in the U.S. on 5.10. The period drama will open the festival.