When I want answers, I go to the experts. My car breaks down, I find the best mechanic. Tax returns? I choose the best accountant. And when I need to know who’s going to win the Oscars, well, of course . . .

I go to the Pistons.

That’s right. The Pistons. Why are you laughing? Did you know that every Pistons player has a free movie pass from Star Theaters? Good all year. And not just any movie pass. A reviewer’s pass.

This means if Siskel and Ebert want to go to a movie, and Oliver Miller is there ahead of them, sorry, he gets their seats. And in Oliver’s case, he needs both.

Anyhow, with a roster full of licensed reviewers, all I had to do for the scoop on Oscar Night was go to Pistons practice. Which I did.

Hey. You can’t talk basketball all the time. Best picture

Let’s begin with Joe Dumars, because he is, as captain, the most thoughtful of the Roundball Reviewers. Joe takes his movies seriously. Sometimes he goes by himself in the afternoon, just to catch up.

” ‘Forrest Gump’ will win best picture,” he says, studying the nominations,
“but ‘Pulp Fiction’ was my favorite. I love that movie. It had no fluff. It was stripped down to the essence of street life.”

Grant Hill peeks over Joe’s shoulder.

“Best picture, ‘Forrest Gump,’ ” Hill declares. “Best actor, Morgan Freeman.”

“No,” Joe says, “Tom Hanks.”

“You think so?”

“More people saw ‘Forrest Gump.’ “

“Maybe you’re right. Yeah. Tom Hanks will win. He was great in that. I didn’t see it, but I heard he was great.”

“You didn’t see it?”

“Naw.”

“Go away with your uneducated point of view.”

I told you Joe was serious.

Lindsey Hunter: ” ‘Pulp Fiction.’ “

Allan Houston: “How come ‘Higher Learning’ wasn’t nominated?”

Billy Curley looks at the sheet, smiles innocently, and says, “Sorry, I haven’t seen any of these.” Best actor

“Hanks will win,” says Dumars.

“Oh, yeah, Hanks,” says Hunter. “At first I thought he was just a comedian, but then he showed me he can really reach down deep and play the role, you know what I’m saying?”

I’m not sure. But it sounds like the Pistons should draft him.

Rafael Addison: “Best actor? I don’t know. I mostly watch soap operas.”

Curley: “I haven’t seen any of these films, either.” Best actress

Did I mention that one movie pass is missing? When Johnny Dawkins was cut, someone got his pass. We don’t know who. We can only hope that the person didn’t show up right after Dawkins got the bad news and say, “So . . . I guess you won’t be going to many movies now, huh?”

Dumars: “Jodie Foster will win. She was good in ‘Nell.’ “

Hill: “Jessica Lange” (although I’m not sure if he saw her movie).

“Me, I have to go with Susan Sarandon,” says Hunter. “I liked her in ‘The Client.’ She was an alcoholic, she wanted to put the past behind her, the kid really touched her. . . . I’m a good analyst, aren’t I?”

Hey. I’m impressed. Best supporting actor/actress

The only time I saw a movie with an NBA player was when Scott Hastings and I, on one summer afternoon, went to see “Stone Cold” starring Brian Bosworth. We were the only ones in the theater — I believe we were the only people stupid enough to see that movie — and I remember Hastings, 6-feet- 10, put his legs up on the seat in front of him and his feet nearly reached the next row. That was the highlight.

Dumars: “Samuel Jackson and Uma Thurman.”

Hunter: “Samuel Jackson and . . . I don’t know.’

Houston: “How come ‘Higher Learning’ wasn’t nominated?”

Curley: “Gee. I haven’t seen any of . . .

OK, we get it. Best director

At this point, we are losing them.

“Quentin Tarantino,” says Hill.

“This dude here, Robert what’s his name,” says Hunter. “The Gump man.”

The Gump man?

“Best director? Hmmmm.” Dumars thinks. “You know, in each of these movies, the characters took over. How much does a director have to do w—“

At this point, Dumars is interrupted to answer questions about his double groin injury. He points to the afflicted areas. Because this column is rated PG, we must move on. Best foreign film/best costume/best song

Now Dumars is the only one left — Hill is chatting with friends, and Hunter is in the showers and Curley is still trying to find a movie he has actually seen — so we will consolidate these categories based on Joe’s picks.

Song: “The ‘Circle of Life’ from ‘The Lion King’ — because my son Jordan plays that thing every single day.”

Costume: ” ‘Little Women,’ since it didn’t win anything else.”

Foreign Film: “Sorry. I don’t go to movies where you have to read subtitles. Too much work. I like films like ‘Hunt For Red October,’ where they start the movie talking in Russian and then, all of a sudden, they’re talking English.”

But we need a selection. Best foreign film.

“OK. This one. ‘Strawberry and Chocolate.’ “

Why?

“It’s playing near my house.”

There you have it. Expert picks. Those of you who bombed out in your NCAA pool can make up for it tonight. By the way, we discovered who got Dawkins’ movie pass: Curley. I’m not kidding. He says he’s “expecting some friends over the summer.” Good. Maybe they’ll show him where the theater is.

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