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    Pick the Oscar Winners
Virginia Woman Will Fly to L.A.
For 'Austin Powers' Premiere


By Matt Slovick
Washingtonpost.com Staff
Wednesday, March 24, 1999

The entries totaled 17,350. They came from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and 50 other countries.

And when Harrison Ford opened that final envelope and proclaimed "Shakespeare in Love" as the Best Picture, a woman from Burke, Va., became the only participant in our Pick the Winners Contest to predict all eight categories correctly.

Ann Smith, 44, will go with her children to the premiere of New Line Cinema's "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me" June 8 in Los Angeles. The prize includes round-trip air fare and hotel accommodations for three days and two nights.

When she received the news of her victory, Ann, a widow with two children – Meghan, 17, and Brendan, 14 – seemed as excited as Roberto Benigni during the Oscar telecast. Throughout the phone call, she made comments like, "This is just beyond belief," "I can't believe it" and "This is so weird."

Twenty-five local participants were selected at random to attend – with a guest – a screening of "Austin Powers II" also June 8 in Washington.

Those winners are: Patricia M. Aitken, Boston, Va.; Brian Bello, Arlington; Madhavi Bhamidipati, Falls Church; Tamatha Black, Herndon; Ali Bourhane, Rockville; Tim Burns, Arlington; Dominique Colgan, Cheverly; Michele Duncan, Burke; Cynthia Hanford, Washington; Nabeen Hussain, Silver Spring; Aneal Krishnamurthy, Washington; Patti Kushner, Leesburg; Kevin Matthews, Arlington; Michelle Mattis, Washington; Nadia Munir, Springfield; Cyrus Nemati, Potomac; Arnaldo Posadas, Washington; Kenn Ruby, Alexandria; Alison Walsh, Montgomery Village; James Weber, Columbia; Cynthia Wilkinson, Arlington; David Wolpert, Fairfax; Russell Wood, Alexandria; Andrew Wynn, Dumfries; Nadia Zerhouni, Pasadena, Md.

How did Ann, a first-grade teacher at Weyanoke Elementary School in Alexandria, pick Steven Spielberg as Best Director but "Shakespeare" as Best Picture? She also predicted wins by non-favorites James Coburn as Supporting Actor ("Affliction") and Bill Condon for Adapted Screenplay ("Gods and Monsters").

They were guesses. Ann had not seen any of the Best Picture nominees. "I don't know where she pulled James Coburn from," Meghan said.

Ann did do some negotiating with her daughter, who had seen a few of the films.

"I like movies, but I certainly don't see them all the time," Ann said. "I've probably seen three or four this year at the movie theater.

"We do read reviews before we go. My personal favorite this year was 'Waking Ned Devine,' but it wasn't nominated."

Ann did watch the Oscar telecast. But when "Shakespeare" finished with seven Oscars, Meghan thought they had lost. They had predicted six for the tiebreaker.

"I kind of had forgotten we had entered the contest," Ann said. "Quite frankly, the thought of actually winning was so far from my mind. I did it, more or less, as a lark."

And now she's going to L.A.


ACADEMY AWARDS, OSCAR(S) and the OSCAR statuette are the copyrighted property of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. This site is neither endorsed by nor affiliated with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

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