The 66-year-old Hollywood filmmaker was named for the prestigious post days after his second disappointing awards season in two years, with his top-tipped drama "Lincoln" going home with only two Oscars out of 12 nominations last weekend.
So he is no doubt happy to be selected to help choose this year's Palme d'Or at the world's top film festival, which begins in the French Mediterranean town on May 15.
Spielberg has directed more than 50 films in his five-decade career, including pop culture touchstones such as "Jaws," "E.T.," "Indiana Jones" and "Jurassic Park."
However, he won his last Oscar for best director 14 years ago, for "Saving Private Ryan," despite repeated nominations since then.
The Cannes Film Festival will run until 26 May.
Last year the president of the Cannes jury was Italian film director Nanni Moretti and the coveted Palme d'Or was awarded by the jury to the film Amour, starring Emanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant.