The List

Top 5 ways to fix the Oscars

While critics ravaged Hollywood's biggest awards ceremony, ratings drooped. How can the Academy improve the Oscars next year?

The goal: A refreshed, hipper version of the Oscars to draw in a younger audience. The result: A ceremony "about as relevant as Nehru jackets and love beads," says Colin Covert in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The numbers back that up: Viewership in the coveted 18- to 49-year-old demographic was actually down 12 percent, and overall viewership plummeted more than 10 percent. What can the Academy do to win back the audience for its annual awards extravaganza? Here, five suggestions:

1. Hire more experienced hostsRelative youngsters Anne Hathaway and James Franco bombed, says Jarett Wieselman in the New York Post. Franco, whom some bloggers suspected of being stoned, was savaged for a sluggish effort. So who will replace them? An ecstatically received appearance by eight-time host Billy Crystal has spurred speculation that he could return. And everyone seemed "obsessed" with 2009 host Hugh Jackman, says Mark Perigard in the Boston Herald, so maybe they're trying to woo him back. Or the Academy could take a ride on the wild side and give hosting honors to controversial Golden Globes host Ricky Gervais, says Toby Young in The Telegraph.

2. Depend less on scripted moments"It was downright painful" to watch Franco and Hathaway, says Sylvia Franklin in Chicago Now, "but it wasn't their fault. They're actors, working with material they're given." The show needs new producers who understand that the Oscars work best with comedian hosts who can improvise on the fly, reading "the audience like a book." 

3. Move to cableHey, Academy, when one of your ceremony's biggest moments is Melissa Leo dropping the F-bomb, you should pay attention, says David Fagin in Aol News. How is it that a show celebrating "some of the most deranged and spoiled members of our society — actors" — is so clean, uptight, and boring. "Even Sesame Street is more edgy these days." To save Oscar, "void the contract with ABC and let HBO take over the broadcast."

4. Bring back the crowd shotsBring back the "gauche cutaway shots for which the Oscars are so rightly renowned," says Hadley Freeman in The Guardian. For some reason, the awkward but entertaining "close-ups on the losers during the winner's speech" were few and far between, and where was the classic "quick cut to Morgan Freeman when someone makes a faintly racial joke ('He's laughing! So it's not racist!')"? Let us see the stars react.

5. Strive to, you know, entertainAfter this year, the "deluded" Academy needs to "snap out of it and maybe take a page from the Grammys, which have made the show more about entertaining people than handing out awards," says Hal Boedeker in the Orlando Sentinel. How about "a showstopping number here and there" to break up the inevitably monotonous and boring acceptance speeches? suggests John Lopez in Vanity Fair.

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