Anne and James' hosting slammed
Oscar bosses' attempts to revitalise the ceremony with James Franco and Anne Hathaway hosting backfired after the show was branded "boring" by critics.
The highlight of the evening was deemed to be when former host Billy Crystal took to the stage, earning the biggest laugh and a standing ovation from the audience.
Critics branded James and Anne's 'young and hip' take on hosting the Academy Awards dull and called for a return to humour.
"It looks as if the Academy will have to give the hosting honours to Ricky Gervais next year," wrote Toby Young on the Daily Telegraph's website.
"It's the only way to save the Oscars from certain death." On Slate.com, a headline said the decidedly laid-back Franco "Might Have Been Reluctantly Emceeing a Distant Cousin's Bat Mitzvah".
And comic Andy Borowitz tweeted during the show: "This is riveting television. By the way, I'm watching the Knicks and the Heat now."
Jamie Masada, co-owner of the Laugh Factory comedy club in Hollywood, watched the show with a group of comics including Dave Chapelle. "It got boring very quickly," he said - until Crystal came on. They all applauded.
"Finally somebody great! He was wonderful," Masada said in a phone interview just after the show. The Oscars, he argued, need a comedian.
"A comedian keeps you connected all evening long... You wait to see what he or she is going to say about what's happening. It gives the show heart."
Masada said he especially enjoyed laughing at Bob Hope's famous joke, in a clip introduced by Billy on Sunday, about the Oscars, "or, as they're known at my house, Passover." So did film historian Leonard Maltin, who calls it "one of the greatest jokes ever written."