Lisa Schwarzbaum
May 23, 2008 AT 12:00 PM EDT

Were he Phillip Seymour Hoffman, the one-two punch-packed Toni Servillo (pictured) in Gomorra and Il Divo would be the talk of American journalists at Cannes, with murmurs of Oscar attached. In Gomorra by Matteo Garrone, Servillo (an acclaimed actor and stage director at home) plays a Mafia smoothie, dapper in well-cut suits, whose business is toxic-waste dumping; in Il Divo, by Paolo Sorrentino, he’s the unsinkable, unstoppable, unprincipled Italian politician Giulio Andreotti, hunched and stiff with prosthetic, awning-shaped ears and square, black, Junior Soprano eyeglasses. As it is, the authoritative style and power of the Italian competition entries has made headlines on the Croisette. And Servillo is on any handicapper’s short list for this year’s best acting prize.

addCredit(“Toni Servillo; Francois Durand/Getty”)

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