By Linda Rosenkrantz
Whenever there’s a list of award show nominees announced, we like to make our own picks—but not for performances or achievements, no–for the best named candidates. There are far fewer categories on the Golden Globes slate than there are for, say, the Academy Awards, where there are tons of technical nominees…but there are enough for us to make the following picks.
EDIE—Edie Falco, the former Carmela Soprano, is nominated for Best Actress in a TV Series, Comedy, as Nurse Jackie. One of the nickname names that has long stood on its own, Edie is now in the Top 250 in the UK; British actress Samantha Morton chose it for her daughter.
GRETA—Greta Gerwig, nominated as Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy for her leading role in Frances Ha. Almost a one-person name in the Garbo era, Greta is back in the public domain, seen on Mad Men and picked by Kevin Kline and David Caruso for their daughters.
HAYDEN—Hayden Panettiere got a nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Mini-Series, or TV Movie, for her work in Nashville. She was one of the main forces behind the gender-line blurring of Hayden, once strictly in the blue zone. It’s now Number 196 for girls, 109 for boys.
HELENA—Helena Bonham Carter got a nomination for Best Actress in a Mini-Series or TV Movie for her portrayal of Elizabeth Taylor in Burton & Taylor. Helena is an elegant and dainty version of Helen, a Shakespearean favorite, used in two of his plays, and is also a Harry Potter ghost. Helen variations are a tradition in Bonham Carter’s family—with her grandmother Hélène, mother Elena, and daughter Nell. –
JUNE—June Squibb was nominated as Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture for Nebraska. Midcentury TV Mom name June has been making a comeback—as both a first and a middle. Balthazar Getty has a daughter named June Catherine.
LENA—Lena Dunham is nominated for Best Actress in a TV Series, Comedy, in her self-created role of Hannah Horvath in Girls. Lena was a Top 100 name in the early decades of the twentieth century before it went into a decline, though always infused with a touch of glamour by Lena Horne. Now it’s on the upswing again, currently at 360.
LUPITA—Mexican-born Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o is nominated as Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture for key her role in 12 Years a Slave. Lupita is a diminutive of Guadalupe, name of the venerated patron saint of Mexico.
PHILOMENA—The title of a film nominated as Best Motion Picture, Drama, and the name of the eponymous lead character, played by Judi Dench and based on a real person. A Greek mythological and saint’s name often heard in Italy and Spain (with an F-starting spelling), Philomena has an element of clunky cool that could make it ripe for a comeback à la Wilhelmina.
TATIANA—Tatiana Maslany has been nominated as Best Actress in a TV Series, Drama, for her stellar work as the lead in Orphan Black. Her name, delicate and balletic, is a Russian classic, attached to a saint and a tsar’s daughter. It currently ranks at Number 473.
ZOOEY—Zooey Deschanel, nominated for Best Actress in a TV Series, Comedy, for her leading role in the sitcom New Girl, where she plays a girl with the more ordinary name Jessica/Jess. Via Ms. Deschanel, it’s all but forgotten that the original Salinger character in Franny and Zooey was a boy; Zoe, Zoey, Zoie and Zooey are all now popular options.
IDRIS—Idris Elba received two nominations—as Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama for playing the title role in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom and as Best Actor in a Mini-Series or TV Movie as Luther. Idris is a legendary name well used in its native Wales, but rarely heard here—until we first discovered this striking actor in The Wire.
JARED—Jared Leto was nominated as Best Supporting Actor in a motion Picture for his work in Dallas Buyers Club. Jared has been popular since the 1970’s, yet doesn’t sound as time-stamped as some of the other late twentieth century J-starting boys’ names; it’s still at Number 294.
JOAQUIN –Joaquin Phoenix earned a Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy nomination for his role in Her. This Spanish appellation came onto the American popularity lists as early as 1886, but took a giant leap upwards a few years ago, influenced by the actor formerly known as Leaf, original surname Bottom.
LEONARDO—Leonardo DiCaprio, nominated for Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy a for portraying The Wolf of Wall Street. Thanks largely to this actor, Leonardo—a name inspired by a da Vinci painting his mother saw while pregnant—is now at a high Number 150.
LIEV—Liev Schreiber has a nomination as Best Actor in a TV Series, Drama for playing the eponymous lead character in Ray Donovan. Liev was born Lev, a Russian cousin if Leo; Ray has some jazzy cool, Donovan is a common Irish surname long used as a first.
LLEWYN— The Coen brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis, has been nominated for Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy. Lleweyn has the characteristically Welsh double-L beginning, and would potentially be mistaken for the somewhat better known Llywellyn/Llewellen.
OSCAR—Oscar Isaac is up for the Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy award for playing the title character in Inside Llewyn Davis. The recently coolated Oscar has been a Top 250 name since the 1880s, is now at Number 177; biblical surname Isaac is way up at Number30. Llewyn would be a more unusual choice—if indelibly linked to the film.
SPIKE—Spike Jonze (born Adam Spiegel) is up for the Best Screenplay—Motion Picture Golden Globe for the movie Her. The name Spike has been inching over from the outrageous-tough-guy-nickname category towards the mainstream, especially since it was chosen for his son by Mike (rhymes with Spike) Myers in 2011.
So cast your votes! The girl and boy winning names, in your estimation, are???–And stay tuned for the Oscars.