What happened
Film critics gave Sunday’s Oscars ceremony mixed reviews after producers filled the show with clips from old films and made limited use of host Jon Stewart because they had only a few weeks to put together the show after the settlement of the writers’ strike. (The New York Times, free registration)

What the commentators said
Stewart’s opening monologue set the tone nicely, said Paul Brownfield in the Los Angeles Times (free registration). The comedian called “the evening "makeup sex" after months of recrimination and stalemate between the studios and the scribes.” He noted that the prospect of canceling the Oscars reportedly sped up a settlement, and deadpanned: "So if we could, before we spend the next four to five hours giving each other golden statues, let's take a moment to congratulate ourselves."

For what? said Robert Bianco in USA Today. “Oscar has been less than scintillating before, but has it ever felt like more of a padded bore than it did Sunday night?” The nominees were largely uninspiring. And, because the show was slapped together without time for writers to work their usual magic, the audience was left watching mostly filler with Stewart lurking around “as an amusing but underemployed bystander.”

For that, said Michelle Solomon in NBC10.com, maybe we should be grateful. Stewart’s 10-minute open “didn't stray too far from his 2006 monologue or from his Daily Show mentality.” And in this election year, the worst moments were his flat political jokes. He got a few boos for his joke about how Hillary Clinton found actress Julie Christie’s portrayal of a woman who forgets her husband to be the “feel-good movie of the year.” And if a bizarrely complicated joke about Barack Obama that ended with the phrase “Gaydolf Titler” was the best he could do, maybe next year the Academy should invite Stephen Colbert to be host.

What a "disappointment," said James Poniewozik in Time.com's Tuned In blog. The first time Stewart hosted the show, in 2006, he made fun of "the conventions of the awards show itself, making him an ally of the TV audience rather than a sycophant to the stars." In his second try "he was just an Oscar host--sometimes a funny one, but a pretty conventional one, whose routine was loaded up with kiss-up softballs about how hot Colin Farrell is, what range Cate Blanchett has and what a tomcat Jack Nicholson is."