A lot of the buzz coming into today’s unveiling of the Cannes Film Festival’s 2013 Official Selection was spot on, although there were a handful of curveballs in the mix. One exec said to me after the announcement, “It’s a wise and balanced selection” that deals with the “eternal problem of how you recognize the talent of directors who are in a league of their own and deserve their spot, and how you open up to newcomers.” There’s a blend of the two this year with potentially more to come as further titles will be added once the Directors’ Fortnight and Critics’ Week sidebars announce their lineups Monday and Tuesday. As I noted last week, the studios will have a muted presence in Cannes. Warner Bros is represented with opener The Great Gatsby, and it was confirmed today that Paramount’s Alexander Payne pic Nebraska will run in Competition.

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Payne’s black-and-white father/son drama had recently been tipped to head for the fall circuit, but instead fest chief Thierry Frémaux said today that he’d seen it “48 hours ago” and announced its inclusion. FilmNation is handling international. This is Payne’s second time to the big party after 2002’s About Schmidt (although he was in Un Certain Regard as part of omnibus Paris, Je T’Aime in 2006). In a widely expected move, Joel and Ethan Coen’s Inside Llewyn Davis showed up on the Competition roster. They won the Palme d’Or in 1991 for Barton Fink. CBS Films picked up Llewyn Davis in February and StudioCanal, which financed, is selling international.

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A reluctant Steven Soderbergh was convinced by Frémaux to move to the Competition with Behind The Candelabra after originally saying he’d prefer another slot. Frémaux remarked today that Soderbergh is known for his particularly laconic emails and after the fest director wrote a diatribe on why he should accept a competition berth, Soderbergh responded by email with a simple “Yes.” It’s a nice bookend for Soderbergh, whose first film, Sex, Lies And Videotape, won the Palme d’Or in 1989 and since he has said Candelabra will be his last film before retirement. The movie debuts on HBO in late May and HBO Enterprises is selling overseas. Two films that were expected for the competition but ended up in official Out of Competition slots are Guillaume Canet’s ensemble drama Blood Ties and J.C. Chandor’s All Is Lost. The latter stars Robert Redford, who Frémaux confirmed would be in Cannes. That pic is getting an October 25 release in the U.S. via Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions.

Of other films that were roundly tipped, Nicolas Winding-Refn will walk the red carpet for Only God Forgives two years after winning the directing award in Cannes for Drive. Frémaux called Only God Forgives the “radical and punk” film of the selection and warned, “Don’t expect Drive 2.” The movie, which Radius-TWC has in the U.S. and which Wild Bunch is selling overseas, is a drama set in the Thai underworld that stars Drive’s Ryan Gosling and Kristin Scott Thomas.

Roman Polanski may be a controversial figure in some parts, but not in Cannes. He’ll be in town for two films this year. The first is the Special Screening racing documentary from 1972, Weekend Of A Champion, for which he’s added an epilogue. Brett Ratner‘s Rat Documentary Films acquired the North American rights to the movie in February as part of his deal with Netflix. Polanski’s Competition title Venus In Fur stars his wife Emmanuelle Seigner and Mathieu Amalric in the screen adaptation of David Ives’ erotic and blackly comic stage play. Lionsgate/Summit International are repping foreign sales and ICM has North America. Polanski won the Palme d’Or with The Pianist in 2002. Amalric also stars in French helmer Arnaud Desplechin’s fifth film in Competition, Jimmy P. The director’s first English-language effort is based on the book Psychotherapy Of A Plains Indian and also stars Benicio Del Toro. CAA is repping domestic on that one.

Two movies that were expected pulled a title switcheroo less than 24 hours before the lineup was read off this morning. James Gray’s drama about the mean streets of 1920s New York has gone by two titles in the past: Nightingale and Lowlife. Today, it got yet another moniker – presumably the final one – The Immigrant. The Weinstein Co. has U.S. and Wild Bunch is handing international. Also changing names, in French at least, is Tunisian director Abdellatif Kechiche’s coming-of-age love story Blue Is The Warmest Color which is now going by La Vie D’Adèle in its native tongue. Wild Bunch has that film too.

Italian director Paolo Sorrentino was so heavily tipped to be in the selection that even Frémaux upon announcing it to a packed room today said, “You all know this one.” Sorrentino’s La Grande Bellezza is a dramedy about an aging writer in Rome which Pathé is repping. He won the Jury Prize in 2008 for Il Divo. François Ozon hasn’t been in competition since 2003’s Swimming Pool but returns this year. Wild Bunch and CAA are selling his Jeune Et Jolie, about four seasons in the life of a 17-year-old French girl.

There are three veteran Asian directors in Competition. Takashi Miike’s cop drama Straw Shield is said to hold a mirror up to present-day Japan where Warner Bros. is distributing. This is his third year running with a film in one of the Cannes sections. Nobody Knows director Hirokazu Kore-Eda’s Like Father Like Son marks his fourth time in Cannes and third in selection. Gaga has sales. Chinese director Zhangke Jia’s is bringing A Touch Of Sin to the proceedings in his third Cannes turn.

Names new or fairly new to the Competition include Oscar winner Asghar Farhadi with Paris-set The Past from Memento Films International; Arnaud Despallières and Michael Kohlhaas, which stars last year’s Cannes best actor, Mads Mikkelsen; Dutchman Alex Van Warmerdam who will see the inside of the Lumière theater next month with his thriller Borgman from Fortissimo; Sangre director Amat Escalante made the cut with Heli; and Valiera Bruni-Tedeschi has the distinction of being the only woman in the Competition this year with dramedy Un Château En Italie which FilmsDistribution is selling. Mahamat-Saleh Haroun makes his second Palais foray with Grisgris from Chad.

Un Certain Regard, on the other hand, has lots of ladies. Sofia Coppola is opening the section with The Bling Ring; Clarie Denis is making a return to Cannes with The Bastards; Flora Lau is there with her first film Bends; Chloé Robichaud’s first film Sarah Préfère La Course is another contender and Rebecca Zlotowski has Grand Central. Valeria Golino, with Miele, is one of two actors debuting with directing efforts in Cannes; James Franco is also in with his William Faulkner-themed As I Lay Dying. In a nod to Sundance, Frémaux also selected Ryan Coogler’s Grand Jury Prize winner Fruitvale. Last year, Benh Zeitlin’s eventual Oscar nominee Beasts Of The Southern Wild repped that festival in the section and ultimately won the Camera d’Or for best first film. Finally, Lav Diaz’ Norte, Hangganan Ng Kasaysayan will only run about four hours, Frémaux promised, as opposed to the director’s normal penchant for films that are about five or six hours in length.