From Spielberg and Kidman to Taylor and Burton: Hollywood gets spotlight at Cannes

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Cannes do.

That’s the answer Hollywood heavy hitters gave in 2013 when asked to help out at the annual Cannes Film Festival.

Perhaps that’s because Steven Spielberg was the one doing the asking.

Spielberg was named president of the award jury early this year, and wasted no time in assembling as A-list a jury as the festival has seen in its 66-year year history.

The Hollywood-heavy lineup includes Oscar winners Nicole Kidman, Christoph Waltz and Ang Lee, who with Spielberg, brings the jury’s Academy Award winner number to four.

"The Oscars (connection) is a coincidence as all these people are friends of Cannes,” Cannes Artistic Director Thierry Fremaux.  “And don't forget that these stars are also involved and engaged in independent cinema.”

The trio join lesser known industry names including Romanian director Cristian Mungiu, who won the festival's prize for best screenplay in 2012 for "Beyond The Hills." The other jurors are French actor Daniel Auteuil, Indian actress Vidya Balan, Scottish director Lynne Ramsay, and Japanese filmmaker Naomi Kawase.

They will all vote on 19 nominated films, which include features by Cannes stalwarts  Roman Polanski, the Coen Brothers and Steven Soderbergh, to decide the winner of this year’s Palme d'Or.

Joel and Ethan Coen, who won the top prize in 1991 for "Barton Fink," will show their latest film "Inside Llewyn Davis," set in New York 1960s folk music scene, starring Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake and John Goodman.

Soderbergh, who sparked controversy with 1989's Palme d'Or winner "Sex, Lies and Videotape," is back with "Behind the Candelabra," based on the autobiographical novel in which Scott Thorson recounts his relationship with the flamboyant pianist Liberace.

Roman Polanski's "Venus In Fur" could give Oscar-winning Polish director his second Cannes gong. He won in 2002 with "The Pianist."

But they’re not the only Hollywood heavies debuting new movies at the festival.

"The Great Gatsby," which opened to a $50 million weekend in the U.S., will open the proceedings in 3-D, and "Zulu," a police thriller shot in South Africa and starring Forest Whitaker and Orlando Bloom, will close it. Sophia Coppola brings "The Bling Ring," starring Emma Watson, which tells the true tale of celebrity-obsessed teenagers who use the Internet to track the whereabouts of their famous targets in order to break into their homes. Actor-director James Franco joins the fun with the premiere of his adaptation of the William Faulkner novel "As I Lay Dying."

And not satisfied with featuring mere A-list mortals, Cannes is also bringing back two of Hollywood’s all-time biggest stars: Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Fox is premiering a ‘meticulously restored’ version of “Cleopatra” in honor of the film’s 50th anniversary.

The Cannes Film Festival runs from May 15-26. Check back here for updates, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook, as we cover the proceedings from France.

The AP contributed to this report.