The Santa Barbara International Film Festival announced today that Steve Carell is the recipient of this year's Outstanding Performer of the Year Award for his work in Bennett Miller's "Foxcatcher." The news comes right on the heels of the film's Thursday night AFI Fest premiere and theatrical release this weekend.

"He's made us laugh for so many years with his great comedic abilities," SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling said, "but he shows this year that his range and artistry runs deep with his career-changing performance in 'Foxcatcher.' He is unrecognizeable physically and emotionally."

Indeed, Carell is outstanding in this film, and curiously, there have been those who don't think he'll figure into the Best Actor Oscar race. Maybe it's some combination of expecting the film to struggle with Academy types (it's a chilly exercise, to be sure) and the notion that his is more of a supporting performance than a leading one, but I would be pretty surprised if he missed the cut. It would be one thing if he weren't planning to be in town and make the face time, which as we saw with Robert Redford last year, is a difference-maker with difficult films. But he's around and charming as ever, and every time you talk to him, you become fascinated anew that he had this in him.

The award will be presented on Friday, Feb. 6, 2015 at the history Arlington Theater in downtown Santa Barbara. Recent recipients of the honor include Cate Blanchett ("Blue Jasmine"), Jennifer Lawrence ("Silver Linings Playbook"), Viola Davis ("The Help"), James Franco ("127 Hours"), Colin Firth ("A Single Man"), Penelope Cruz ("Vicki Christina Barcelona"), Angelina Jolie ("A Mighty Heart"), Helen Mirren ("The Queen"), Heath Ledger ("Brokeback Mountain"), Kate Winslet ("Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind") and Charlize Theron ("Monster").

The 30th annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival runs Jan. 27 - Feb. 7, 2015.

Kristopher Tapley has covered the film awards landscape for over a decade. He founded In Contention in 2005. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Times of London and Variety. He begs you not to take any of this too seriously.