Edith Head fails to win the first Best Costume Design award in 1948.
It may not seem such a travesty to you, but it most certainly is. Why? Edith Head was the greatest costume designer in movie history, with 35 nominations and eight victories. In terms of total dominance, only Walt Disney compares to Edith Head--in any category. Head is, ahem, Head and shoulders above the rest. With her stunning loss in 1948, even Edith herself could not conceal her disappointment in losing for her film, The Emperor Waltz:
"There was no doubt in my mind that I would win that Oscar. I deserved it—for longevity if nothing else. I had been doing motion pictures before the Oscar even existed. And besides, my picture had the best costumes of any nominated picture. The serious competition [and the only; just two nominees. ~CKDH] was Joan of Arc, designed by Madame Karinska and Dorothy Kenkins. To my mind, there was no way Ingrid Bergman’s sackcloths and suits of armor could win over my Viennese finery.
Since I am not very emotional, no one knew that I was in shock. My husband squeezed my hand and we watched the remaining presentations, but I do not remember the rest of the evening.”
With the Oscars being the political and business-oriented awards they are, it’s baffling that the Academy did not select Edith Head as its first Best Costume winner. In fact, the result goes against its own unofficial, unspoken policy of rewarding those who’ve “served their time” or “paid their dues.” Head understood this and knew how the Academy and the film industry worked. Yet for some reason, she was not deemed worthy enough to win the category's first award. It’s baffling, especially considering that clunky armor defeated sophisticated material. It’s like Oscar’s politics only work against the people who deserve the award the most.