Fort Worth got very gussied up on Friday night for the first ever Lone Star International Film Festival Ball. It seems that when you’re honoring a pair of recent Oscar winners, you want to look your best.
Jeff Bridges and Fort Worth native son T Bone Burnett were seated at the head table at McDavid Studio across the street from Bass Performance Hall. They both took home Academy Awards this year for their work on Crazy Heart, a film that held special meaning for some in the room because of Stephen Bruton’s contribution to it.
Speaking of, Burnett was there to receive the Stephen Bruton Award, a tribute to the late Fort Worth guitarist that honors musicians who have had a significant impact on film. Kris Kristofferson took home the first award last year and the festival found another worthy recipient in Burnett. In addition to his work on Crazy Heart, Burnett is probably most well-known in the film world for supervising the music for the Coen Brothers’ O Brother, Where Art Thou?
“Stephen was the driving force behind the music of Crazy Heart,” Burnett said in accepting the award from Bruton’s brother, Sumter. “It was his final act. And it’s especially gratifying that it was a raging success.”
Next up to the podium was Peter Bogdanovich, who directed Bridges in one of his earliest movies, The Last Picture Show.
“I met Jeff when he was 19,” Bogdanovich said. “I was 16.”
And so it went for about 10 minutes as the director warmly honored the actor he’s known for nearly 40 years. (As I’ve witnessed before, Bogdanovich is a heck of a storyteller.) Two stories stood out:
Bogdanovich said that he recently told Bridges that he felt that he should have one each of the four Academy Awards he was nominated for before finally winning for Crazy Heart. Bridges reminded Bogdanovich that the actor who beat him out in 1972 was his Last Picture Show co-star Ben Johnson. “Oh. Well, that was a good choice,” was the director’s reply.
Twenty years after The Last Picture Show, the pair reunited for a sequel, Texasville. By then, Bridges had gained a reputation for getting lost in his characters during filming. “One day on Texasville, I said, ‘ I WANT TO TALK TO JEFF’,” Bogdanovich recalled. “And he said, ‘He hears you’.”
Bridges seemed to genuinely appreciate the award.
“I made a lot of movies in Texas, and I love making them here,” he said, award in hand.
When dinner wrapped up, Bridges and Burnett took the stage together to perform a tease of a two-song set. Bridges took the lead on the Bruton penned “Fallin’ & Flyin'” from Crazy Heart, with Burnett joining in on the chorus. Then the lights came down as Bridges performed a solo take on Greg Brown’s “Brand New Angel.”
Each of the night’s honorees stuck around to shake hands and catch up with people in the room. It was refreshing to see two guys who have made it big still humbled by success.