FORT WORTH -- The third annual Lone Star Film Festival Ball turned into something of a mutual admiration society Thursday night.
The men of the hour -- actors John Hawkes and Billy Bob Thornton, producer Al Ruddy and singer-songwriter Billy Joe Shaver -- took turns filling the spacious Ballroom B of the Fort Worth Convention Center with effusive praise for each other.
Hawkes was given the Maverick Award; Ruddy received the Lone Star Film Society Achievement in Film Producing Award; Thornton accepted the Lone Star Film Society Achievement in Film Acting and Directing Award; and Shaver was honored with the Stephen Bruton Award.
But to hear the honorees tell it, the trophies were almost beside the point.
"To be honored alongside the others, that's an award unto itself," Hawkes said upon taking the stage.
The Lone Star International Film Festival also received plenty of accolades from the night's guests of honor.
"I can't tell you how much a festival like this means to us [filmmakers]," Thornton said onstage. "They really concentrate on the movies and not a lot of ass-kissing."
Befitting a ceremony that has gotten bigger -- previously the ball was inside the cozy McDavid Studio -- the star power was cranked up considerably for the 2012 edition.
Producer Gray Frederickson, actor Robert Duvall and raconteur Kinky Friedman were presenters. Each added warmth and great charm to the occasion. Duvall went so far as to label Thornton "the hillbilly Orson Welles," while Frederickson said of Ruddy, "Everybody loves him, and in Hollywood, that's not easy."
In accepting the Bruton award, Shaver said the honor felt like the late guitarist and singer "reaching out from the grave and giving me something."
Although T Bone Burnett was scheduled to perform with Shaver, his responsibilities on the hit TV show Nashville kept him from attending. Rather than plug in a guitar and entertain the crowd, Shaver simply sang a cappella.
The hearty standing ovation at its end was, fittingly, a full reflection of the affection glimpsed on stage all evening long.
Preston Jones is the Star-Telegram pop music critic, 817-390-7713