Everyone liked Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody after it opened on 11.2.18, but nobody thought he’d be a serious Best Actor contender until he won two awards a short while ago — the Golden Globe award for Best Actor, Drama on 1.6.19, and then the SAG Award for Best Actor on 1.26.

Now there’s a better-than-even chance that Malek will beat out Vice‘s Christian Bale for the Best Actor Oscar.

Malek is being toasted tonight with the Santa Barbara Film Festival’s Outstanding Performer of the Year Award. Yesterday I wrote festival honcho Roger Durling (aka “Nick the Greek”) to ask when he decided to try and book Malek.

“When did you decide that he was festival-worthy?,” I asked. “Before or after the Globes?”

Before, Durling answered.

HE: “So you booked him because of the popularity of the film, and then you lucked out when his winning streak began at the Globes?”

Durling: “We were actually after him since September but his shooting schedule made it difficult to confirm.”

HE: “Since September? But Bohemian Rhapsody didn’t open until 11.2, and it didn’t even screen for industry and journalists until 10.6. Oh, I get it — you’re just a Queen freak, and you knew the local audience would show up in droves. It wasn’t an Oscar-centric call like with Glenn Close.”