Category: Baby names from pop culture
We don’t particularly think of Woody Allen as a cutting-edge filmmaker, but there is one area in which he has been—if unwittingly—prescient, and that is in giving some of his characters names that would later become trendy choices for babies. (Though there are no babies in his films—children hardly exist in Woody’s World.)
For those characters he created for himself, he chose, with a few exceptions, pretty ordinary, sometimes nicknamey names—Alvy, Sandy, Mickey, Lenny, Larry, Jerry, Sid, Gabe, Sheldon, Isaac. But for others, he did come up with some inspired choices:
Alfie—You Will Meet a Tall, Dark Stranger, 2010 (Anthony Hopkins). A fittingly British choice for a British character—but it’s doubtful if Woody knew that Alfie was the fourth most popular name for UK baby boys born in 2010.
Okay, so the Fashion Police have had their say, praising and pillorying the various gowns and guy clothes on the Golden Globes Red Carpet by designers from Armani to Zak Posen–scrutinizing everything from Charlize Theron’s sparkly headband to Evan Rachel Wood’s Christian Louboutins.
Now it’s time for us Name Police to have our turn. Not that we would ever say anything negative about anyone’s appellation, but we did want to point out some of the award-worthy names we discovered among the cast members and characters in this year’s Golden Globe winning movies and TV shows.
Adriana—Adriana is the beautiful fantasy mistress of artists Braque, Modigliani and Picasso, played by Marion Cotillard, in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. A lovely Italian name that is perfectly at home in English-speaking countries.
Amara—Amara Miller is the 11-year-old actress who plays George Clooney’s precocious daughter Scottie King in The Descendents—her first movie role. Amara is a strong, sweet, stylish name that means “lovely forever.”
Cora—The Rt. Hon. Cora, Countess of Grantham, is the American-born mistress of Downton Abbey, played by the American-born actress Elizabeth McGovern. Cora is a gentle, old-fashioned name that has recently been rejuvenated.
Djuna—Djuna Barnes is one of the real-life Parisienne icons who resurface in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. The exotic name, pronounced JOO-na, has long been associated with that early 20th century American novelist, but we can see it being adopted by cutting-edge baby namers.
Here’s an idea: Why not make your child an award winner from the get-go, and give him or her a name with the bonus point of a ‘best of’ association? We’re all familiar with Oscar and Tony and Emmy, but there are lots of other award names that aren’t as well known, most represeningt a distinguished namesake. And no, we’re not suggesting using Nobel or Pulitzer or Pritzger.
Agatha: Named for Agatha Christie, the Agatha Awards are given to mystery authors writing in the vein of the creator of Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot—that is, featuring an amateur detective and sans sex or violence. Agathas are bestowed at an annual convention in Washington, D.C. in several categories, from novels to children’s mysteries.
Amanda: Named for an old Norwegian sea shanty, Amandas have been given since 1985 by the Norwegian International Film Festival to stimulate interest in Norwegian films
Clio: Named for the Greek muse of history, a “source of inspiration and genius,” the Clios have been awarded since 1959 for creative excellence in advertising
Effie: The Effie Awards are marketing communications awards given yearly to honor the most effective marketing communications ideas. Started in 1968 in the US by the New York American Marketing Association, they then expanded globally.
Emmy: The Emmy Awards are the TV equivalent of the movie Oscars and the music Grammys, presented by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. The name is a variation of “immy,” the image orthicon tubes used in early video cameras– which is why the statuette depicts a winged woman holding an atom.