“Talk about bad timing,” said Robert Bianco in USA Today. “A year that saw most of the Oscars go to little-seen films finally produced an Oscars worth seeing.” New producers Bill Condon and Laurence Mark “made last night's gorgeously designed ABC broadcast feel faster and more intimate without sacrificing Hollywood glamour.” Unfortunately, the improvements came “more in spite of" first-time host Hugh Jackman "than because of him.”

Most observers gave Jackson passing marks, said Leigh Paatsch in Australia’s Herald Sun. He started out “slightly nervous”—but gained confidence by getting some laughs in the shortest opening monologue in Oscars history. But it quickly became apparent that the plan was to cater the show to “Jackman's strengths as an all-around entertainer” by letting him sing, dance, and wisecrack through a “kooky summary of the past year in film.” (Click here to watch Jackman's opening performance at the Oscars)

“It was inevitable that Hugh Jackman would open the Academy Awards with a production number,” said Neal Justin in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “Unfortunately, all that sweat and sincerity was for naught because the music was tuneless and trite.” And “Jackman's attempts at chitchat with famous faces in the audience only had us searching the seats for Billy Crystal.”