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Great Baby Names from New Movies

December 11, 2014 Abby Sandel

By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

The holiday movie season is always busy, from family-friendly flicks to serious Oscar-worthy dramas.

New movies mean new potential baby names.  Don’t believe me?  A year ago, we were all queuing up to see the latest Disney animated feature, starring a snow queen with a name that you might have heard ‘round Nameberry in the past twelve months: Elsa.

So let’s go to the movies, and check out the best names on the big screen this winter.  From quiet indie flicks to big budget blockbusters, inspiration is as plentiful as the popcorn.

GIRLS

Alice – Wonderland’s most famous visitor has taken plenty of turns on the big screen.  The inescapable Target ads for the 2014 holiday season feature a little girl named Alice in Marshmallow Land.  This year’s movie Alice is very different.  Julianne Moore plays a successful psychologist diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s in Still Alice.  No, this isn’t a fairytale – but it promises to show Alice as a grown-up name.

Annie – Take one of the most promising young actors of our time and cast her as one of the most enduring characters from stage and screen.  Is there any doubt that the reboot of Annie, starring Oscar-nominated Quvenzhane Wallis, will be a hit?  The 2014 Annie isn’t the same old orphan – she sings about the hard knock life of a foster kid.  And Cameron Diaz – yes, Cameron Diaz – plays Miss Hannigan.  The question is whether sassy nickname name Annie – a Top 50 staple through the 1950s – will get a boost from the musical film.

Edie Goodbye to All That is the kind of indie flick that probably won’t play at the big multiplexes.  It’s about a divorced dad trying to rebuild his relationship with his daughter, Edie.  Goodbye debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival last spring, and is now slated for a wider release in December.  The silver lining?  Name your daughter Elsa in 2015 and everyone will assume you channeled Disney.  Great names from quieter titles carry none of that baggage.

Lucinda Into the Woods was a Broadway smash in the 1980s.  It’s now a movie, with an impressive cast – Meryl Streep as the Witch, Johnny Depp as the Wolf.  In this retelling of so many familiar tales, Cinderella’s stepsisters are Florinda and Lucinda.  Here’s guessing that Florinda isn’t going to take off, but Lucinda could follow Lucy, Lucille, and Lucia up the popularity charts.

Millicent Nicole Kidman is set to star with a very famous bear in Paddington.  Her character’s name feels lovely and old-fashioned, even a little bit British.  And Millie is a great nickname!  I’d be calling Millicent a name to watch in 2015, except for one tiny problem – Millicent is the villain in the movie.

Murphy Interstellar came out before Thanksgiving, but the big budget flick about astronauts out to save the human race is still going strong.  In the movie, Matthew McConaughey plays the mission’s pilot, Cooper.  His daughter, who we meet as a child and an adult, is called Murphy.  It’s not the first time we’ve heard Murphy as a feminine name – Murphy Brown, anyone? – but with surname names so in style, this might be Murphy’s time to take off.

Saoirse Oscar-nominated actress Saoirse Ronan put her name in the spotlight.  And now there’s another silver screen connection for the name – a character from animated film Song of the Sea.  It’s not a big-budget blockbuster, but the story about a lighthouse keepers’ daughter has already garnered much critical acclaim.  Could this help tip Saoirse into the mainstream in the US?

Silvana – Silvery, Italian Silvana comes from the Latin silva – forest.  In the upcoming Jennifer Aniston movie Cake, Mexican actress Adriana Barraza plays Silvana.  Barraza – already Oscar-nominated for her role in 2006’s Babel – is a veteran of telenovelas and major motion pictures alike.  Silvana fits right in with Isabella and Valentina.

Tilly – Okay, this one might be a little bit silly.  The third installment of the Night at the Museum series takes us overseas, to the British Museum.  Ben Stiller is back as everyone’s favorite museum guard.  Now Rebel Wilson joins him as Tilly, his counterpart at the British Museum.  It’s a charming name that’s had a good run in the UK, but is nearly unknown in the US.  But if Americans can fall for Sadie and Molly, Tilly isn’t such a stretch.

BOYS

Bennett Mark Wahlberg’s latest movie is The Gambler.  Wahlberg plays a college professor with a secret gambling habit.  It’s based on a 1974 movie of the same name, only in the earlier version, the professor was Axel Freed.  Now the main character is called Jim Bennett.  If it is a more vanilla first name, the last name is an on-trend choice that’s rapidly rising for boys.

Dell Justin Long’s character in Comet answers to Dell, the guy who loves, loses, and possibly wins back Kimberly, played by Emmy Rossum.  Dell caught my eye thanks to my love for Savannah Guthrie’s Vale – both subtle, poetic nature names referring to valleys.  Dell’s not exactly a romantic hero, and the movie isn’t quite Casablanca – and yet, there’s no reason it couldn’t inspire a few more boys called Dell.

Hiro – Is Hiro too much to live up to?  Television series Heroes gave us a Hiro, a traditional Japanese name, and a fitting choice for a guy who could teleport and manipulate time.  Now Disney’s Big Hero 6 is about another heroic Hiro, a genius teenager with a talent for robotics.  If boys can answer to King, Legend, and Messiah is Hiro so out there?

Lazarus Lazarus doesn’t come out until early 2015, but the name of Olivia Wilde’s new movie is so on-trend that I couldn’t resist adding it to this list.  It’s not a character name, but the very appropriate movie title.  A team of ambitious medical students figures out how to bring the dead back to life – just like in the New Testament story.

Louie Angelina Jolie returns to the director’s chair for Unbroken.  It’s the true story of Olympic athlete turned World War II soldier Louis Zamperini.  Zamperini survived a plane crash, weeks adrift at sea, and more than two years as a Japanese prisoner of war.  Louis is a classic, and Louie is as upbeat as Charlie.  (In the US, we tend to pronounce the ‘s’ in Louis, as opposed to the UK, where Louis and Louie sound the same.)

Martin Plenty of Nick Hornsby novels have been adapted for the big screen, from High Fidelity to About A Boy.  Now it’s A Long Way Down, a story about four strangers who meet atop a London building on New Year’s Eve – intending to leap to their deaths.  Things turn out very differently from there.  Martin is the first man to arrive on the rooftop, played by Pierce Brosnan.  Is it time for this classic to make a comeback?

Moses – The Biblical patriarch has headlined a Hollywood blockbuster before – think of Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments.  Now it is Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings.  There have always been boys called Moses, but traditionally this Old Testament name has trailed far behind favorites like Noah and Jacob.  We’ll have to wait and see if a big screen Moses changes that.

Peter – Speaking of Biblical boy names, how about the classic Peter?  He’s a New Testament name and so very literary.  A live action version of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan is on television this December, and next summer, we’ll get Peter’s previously untold backstory in Pan.  Peter is the male equivalent of Annie – a former Top 50 staple still in use, but not considered fashionable – yet.

Ruskin Mr. Turner is the new biopic about nineteenth century English painter J.M.W. Turner.  Turner has possibilities as a given name, but I’m more attracted to Ruskin, as in John Ruskin, the famed British art critic from the same era.  Ruskin also appears in the movie.  If Russell is not quite ready for revival, how about Ruskin?

Heard any great names in movies lately?  And will Annie and Peter on the big screen lead to more kids with those names?

About the author

Abby

Abby Sandel is nameberry's Senior Editor and resident Name Sage. Look for her baby name news round-ups every Monday, and her Name Sage columns on Wednesdays. Abby is the creator of the baby name blog Appellation Mountain and mom to Alex and Clio. For a chance to have your questions answered, contact Abby at namesage@nameberry.com.

View all of Abby's articles

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