By SARAH BULL
'Downright painful': Anne Hathaway and James Franco's presenting skills received a mixed reception at this year's Oscars
It had been hoped that employing Anne Hathaway and James Franco as hosts for this year's Oscars would give the ceremony a young and fresh feel.
But despite bringing their considerable comedic talents to the plate while presenting the Academy Awards, using skits and montages to add to their hosting duties, the pair's performance was met with mixed critical reception.
The 83rd Academy Awards opened with a montage of Hathaway and Franco delving into the mind of former Oscar winner Alec Baldwin in an Inception-inspired moment, narrated by the smooth-voiced Morgan Freeman.
And things continued to get more and more surreal, as the pair poked fun at The King's Speech, which took home four Oscars, The Fighter and True Grit, as well as The Social Network and Back to the Future.
Changing faces: The pair also integrated themselves into movies such as The King's Speech (left) and True Grit
Perhaps the funniest moment of the opening montage, however, was Hathaway and Franco both donning leotards and tutus to join Natalie Portman in Black Swan.
The pair attempted to impress the hard-nosed Vincent Cassel with their dancing abilities, and left Portman looking flustered with their 'talent'.
Living the dream: Hathaway and Franco recreated the famous Paris scene as they took on Inception
Hathaway also returned to her former duty at the Oscars in 2009 when she joined then-host Hugh Jackman for a duet to open the show.
Paying tribute to the track, Hathaway donned a tuxedo to perform a comic rendition of On My Own from Les Miserables.
Directing the song at Jackman, who sat in the front row of the ceremony and found himself the butt of many a presenter's joke, Hathaway belted out lyrics including: 'He stuck his fake retractable claws into my heart when he left me on my own.'
But Franco, determined not to be outdone, later donned a pink dress and blonde wig to come on to the stage as Marilyn Monroe and tell a joke about Charlie Sheen.
However, if he had been hoping the joke earn him a reputation as a controversial host, it paled in comparison to Ricky Gervais' choice numbers at the Golden Globes earlier this year.
Other montages throughout the show included a look back to Gone With The Wind and Lord of the Rings.
And one of the most memorable montages of the evening was a clever piece using auto-tune technology to make songs out of dialogue from films including Twilight, which saw Edward and Bella sing 'He Doesn't Own a Shirt' about Jacob, Toy Story 3 and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
One of the advantages of having a younger host, however, is that Franco used is considerable knowledge of social networking site Twitter to tweet fans throughout the show as the ceremony went out live on US television.
Using the hash tag #OscarsRealTime, Franco tweeted photographs and video of himself, as well as a group shot with Hathaway and Oprah Winfrey, before later adding another one of the presenting pair and former host Billy Crystal.
He later posted photographs of himself still wearing his tuxedo and enjoying a cocktail with 'Goodbye LA' scrawled over it in blue writing.
It remains to be seen whether Franco and Hathaway's attempts to make the ceremony more modern and accessible for younger viewers was successful enough to ensure similar hosts next year, or whether producers will go back to a veteran host like Billy Crystal.
Musical number: Hathaway donned a tuxedo to perform a rendition of On My Own, with jokes directed at former duet partner Hugh Jackman
Passion for fashion: However, Hathaway did get to go for stylish outfits for the rest of the evening, indulging in an astonishing eight costume changes throughout the ceremony
Before the awards, Franco said: 'Nobody thinks I'm Chris Rock or Billy Crystal. I can try anything and nobody has high expectations, so nobody cares if I'm not great.'
Hathaway had added: 'I love the Oscars. I do. I think it's wonderful. I love being an actor.
'I feel like the luckiest girl in the whole wide world, and this is just a continuation of the amazing fortune and remarkable and unusual experiences I've gotten to have in my life. I couldn't be more grateful.'
Famous faces: Franco posted pictures on his website of himself and Hathaway with Oprah Winfrey and Billy Crystal
Twittering away: Franco updated followers on Twitter with realtime messages as he co-hosted the ceremony
Franco in Drag on 'The 83rd Annual Academy Awards' 2/27/11 - TV Replay
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