The 83rd Academy Awards have come to a close and, of course, every viewer and reviewer has to put their two cents in about Hollywood’s greatest self-promotion machine. The ceremony didn’t veer too far off from the expected formula, unless one considers the doublemint hosting duo comprised of James Franco and Anne Hathaway.

Franco and Hathaway both had a nervous energy which made for an uneasy viewing experience although they did exude a heaping spoonful of sweetness and enthusiasm. James Franco in drag as Marilyn Monroe had the makings of a great Saturday Night Live skit but it seemed a forced attempt at hilarity. Hathaway’s comedic musical number presenting the nominees for the night showed off her surprisingly strong voice.

Although Franco and Hathaway are likable, young and fun they seemed to lack the commanding presence and innate humor of past Academy Awards hosts. The disparity was most notable when Billy Crystal took the stage. He had more charisma and personality than both of this year’s hosts put together. Also, Crystal’s anecdote, regarding his hosting experience when Bob Hope flipped him off after the cameras turned, was just the sort of material which holds the perfect mix of irreverence and interest to satisfy the audience at home and in the theatre.

Even Sandra Bullock, who is not regarded as a stand-up comedian or stage performer, showed enough comedic presence and timing, when presenting the nominees for actor in a leading role, to put her in the running for a better hosting option. She had a flare and comedic ease which overshadowed Franco’s and Hathaway’s desperate attempts at humor. Bullock’s, and of course Crystal’s, ease with language and comedy allowed the viewer to relax into the Academy ride without having to worry about who’s working the reigns.

Franco and Hathaway were a safe bet, though, considering the Hollywood crème de la crème were on edge after the Gervais-Gate uproar when Ricky Gervais’ irreverently and hilariously hosted this year’s Golden Globes.

Some of the more notable show highlights were Kirk Douglas’ farcically aeonic presentation of the best supporting actress reveal followed by Melissa Leo’s F-bomb during her acceptance of said award. Leo’s verbal slip-up was about as tremendous as her performance in The Fighter or the ad she placed for herself in Variety magazine promoting her Oscar nomination.

The show included live musical performances by Gwyneth Paltrow and Celine Dion. Paltrow’s performance was passable, although her voice lacked the strength and clarity to really warrant a live solo performance. It wasn’t bad but if one is commanding a stage with millions of viewers, it certainly wasn’t good enough. Dion’s voice was as magical and sharp as always and created a perfect accompaniment to the In Memoriam Tribute.

The female lead category held amazing nominees who were all deserving of the award. It’s no surprise Natalie Portman won, though, as she was the frontrunner and favorite. Her speech was enjoyable and she managed to thank nearly everyone in Black Swan which was an achievement in itself considering the time constraints. Also, unlike her previous acceptance speeches, she managed to avoid the use of profanity and any references to her fiancés amorous advances leading to her current impregnated state.

Colin Firth was hilarious when upon accepting the award for best actor he said, “I have a feeling my career’s just peaked.” His speech was just the right amount of cheeky fun, emotion and earnestness to make it one of the best acceptance speeches of the night. He also had the perfect exit, stating, “I have some impulses I have to tend to backstage.”

Two other expected and deserved wins for this year were best motion picture for The King’s Speech, which won four of its twelve nominations, and best supporting male actor, given to a heavily bearded Christian Bale.

The Oscars closed with a song from the students of the PS22 School. The performance was sweet, although the fluorescent green and royal blue t-shirts the children were wearing made them seem like miniature inmates rather than scheduled performers. Surely, the budget for the biggest award show of the year would allow for more appropriate attire for these featured performers.

Also, all of the nominees walking out on stage behind the singing students made it seem like a talent showcase where the well-dressed judges come out to close the show. Hathaway’s high-fiving and fervent “wooing,” as the performance came to a close, pretty much ruined any pleasant after-glow which may have been had by the home viewers.

Of course, no Oscar review would be complete without a fashion mention. Anne Hathaway wore some very flattering and eye-catching gowns throughout the show, but her limply styled, brassy locks detracted from the glamorous attire. My best-dressed picks of the night are Halle Berry in a nude, sparkle and tulle Marchesa gown and Gwyneth Paltrow in a silver, sleek, simple and sexy Calvin Klein dress. Also, Cate Blanchett’s light lavender Givenchy gown was the most imaginative with strategically placed beading and a structured, almost architectural top half.

The worst dressed? In my opinion, as long as people feel good in what they’re wearing and their fashion choices inspire them, then they should go for it. Fashion should be fun and adventurous. Hats off to the fashion risk takers and congratulations to all the winners and nominees.