Best Oscar Nominated Names: Casts and characters
By Linda Rosenkrantz
This year’s field of Academy Award nominees includes some really interesting names—but why should we limit ourselves just to the performers, when some of their characters’ names are just as noteworthy? Here are Nameberry’s picks of the 2016 Oscar pack, with a mix of actors and roles.
Alicia Vikander is nominated for Best Supporting Actress in The Danish Girl and also received Golden Globe and BAFTA noms this year for her role as Ava in Ex Machina. Alicia is a daintier spin on the classic Alice, with enough fans to bring it to Number 341. Associated now with the Julianna Margulies character on The Good Wife and actress Alicia Silverstone.
Brie Larson, born Brianne Sidonie Desaulniers, has won the Golden Globe and Critic’s Choice awards in addition to an Oscar nom for her performance as Ma in Room. The more popular spelling of her name is Bree, though neither has ever ranked on the popularity charts.
Daisy Domergue is the feisty prisoner played by Jennifer Jason Leigh in Quentin Tarantino’s period Western The Hateful Eight. Daisy, originally a diminutive of Margaret, is a perennially popular flower name, now listed at Number 180.
Dalton Trumbo is the real life midcentury screenwriter who was a victim of the Hollywood Blacklist, played in the 2015 film by Bryan Cranston. Dalton was one of the upscale two-syllable surname names that became trendy in the 90s; it still registers at just over 300.
Éilis Lacey is the luminous, conflicted, character embodied by Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn. This Irish variation of Elizabeth is pronounced eye-lish, and just might see some international pick-up as a result of the movie.
Gerda Wegener was the real life Danish artist played by Alicia Viklander in The Danish Girl. Despite being a Scandinavian goddess of fertility and playing a role in The Snow Queen, Gerda is not a name that has ever found favor in the US.
Hugh Glass is the larger than life 19th century American frontiersman portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant. A name with an intellectual meaning and image somewhat softened by actors Grant, Jackman and Dancy, it ranks at Number 243 on Nameberry.
Leonardo DiCaprio has been nominated for his bravura performance in The Revenant—his sixth Oscar nomination. The strong but romantic name Leonardo has been zooming up the US popularity list—now at Number 114—thanks to nickname Leo—and role model DiCaprio.
Rocky Balboa is the iconic boxer character for which Sylvester Stallone first won an Oscar nomination in 1976 and again this year. This traditional nickname for Rocco was chosen for their son by Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze Jr. Also featured in Creed: Adonis–son of the late Apollo.
Rooney Mara (born Patricia Rooney) plays the innocent/not so innocent salesgirl Therese in Carol, inspired by author Patricia Highsmith herself. Rooney is a warm and wonderful Irish surname name meaning red-haired and recommended for a boy or girl carrottop.
Sacha Pfeiffer is the real life Pulitzer Prize-winning Boston Globe reporter played by Rachel McAdams in Spotlight, for which McAdams was nominated as Best Supporting Actress. Sacha is the French variation of Sasha, used for both genders, all deriving from the Russian Alexander.
Saoirse Ronan has been nominated for her role in Brooklyn by not only the Academy but BAFTA and SAG. Finally, a seemingly unpronounceable Irish name becomes pronounceable as its bearer explains when asked that it rhymes with ‘inertia’. A lovely name that might now get more use.
Sylvester Gardenzio Stallone received his nomination for reprising the role of Rocky Balboa in Creed in a dramatic comeback. The name Sylvester was in the Top 200 in the 1920s, but—blame the cocky cartoon cat—has not been heard from for decades.
Therese Belivet is the character portrayed by Rooney Mara in Carol, in which the title character remarks on the exotic loveliness of the name. In various cultures Therese has been the name of a saint, queen, and a number of notable musicians and athletes.
And there are also some other great names belonging to behind-the-scenes nominees:
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on January 22nd, 2016 at 4:18 pm
I would just like to point out that the name Saoirse is not pronounced as though it rhymes with inertia. That is the way Saoirse Ronan pronounces it, which she herself has admitted is incorrect. The correct way to pronounce it is Seer-sha which is how it is pronounced by everyone in Ireland. The “aoi” part in Irish is pronounced like a double e in English. This includes other names like my own name Aoife which is pronounced “Ee-fa”.
Tiana Putric Said
on January 23rd, 2016 at 5:00 pm
And then there is F. Scott Fitzgerald’s unforgettable female protagonist Daisy Fay Buchanan in the novel “The Great Gatsby”.
on January 24th, 2016 at 5:09 pm
Great list! I’d like to say, though, that it’s Alicia Vikander, not Viklander.
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