Category: The Help
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.
Now his little sister is also singing “baby, you a fiiiiiiiyawawk.”As we listened to the song for the hundredth time last night, I found myself thinking: could Perry make a comeback? It’s not just the flirty pop star. This weekend, likable young country musicians The Band Perry came through Washington DC on their summer tour with Tim McGraw.
The last time Perry was in vogue was the nineteenth century, when Commodore Perry was all over the news for his expeditions to Japan. Today, with surname names showing no signs of etreat and plenty of parents seeking similar-but-different options, Perry would fit with Riley and Bailey.
Names bubble up for so many reasons, from fictional characters to newsworthy figures, songs and celebrities, even sounds that just feel right.
Here are nine most buzz-worthy this week:
Cecil – The fourth installment in the Spy Kids franchise opens this month, with Joel McHale and Jessica Alba taking over as the parents. The series is known for its precocious youngsters, outrageous gadgets, and wildly unusual cool names for the male characters. The boy spy kid in this iteration is Cecil (illustrated), twin to Rebecca. Other names throughout the series include Wilbur, Juni, Donnagon, and Devlin.
Dexter – When I hear Dexter, my first thought is Cary Grant as Katharine Hepburn’s ex in The Philadelphia Story. Grant plays the dashing C.K. Dexter Haven. But plenty of parents hear Dexter and think of a mightily disturbed serial killer, thanks to Showtime’s five seasons and counting of gory stories about Dexter Morgan. Next week’s release of One Day, the big screen adaptation of David Nicholls’ 2009 novel, could return Dex to the romantic hero category. Jim Sturgess plays Dexter Mayhew, who spends entirely too long realizing he’s in love with his best friend Emma.
Gale – For a boy. As if The Hunger Games’ heroic Gale Hawthorn isn’t enough encouragement, what about actor Gale Howard? The CW’s paranormal teenage drama Secret Circle debuts next month. Howard plays the father of the Circle’s head witch – and a rather attractive villain, too, if I read the previews right. Boys are called Gage and Cale – mash ‘em together, and Gale is a logical pick for a son, as long as you don’t name your daughter Abby.
Jett – For a girl. Nameberry intern Hannah Tenison mentioned Joan Jett in her Rock’n’Roll baby names post on Tuesday. Hannah kept it on the boys’ list, but I wonder if some parents seeking rock-star style might think of Jett for a girl. The solution appeared at Swistle – name your daughter Juliet, and reserve Jett as a nickname. (You can read the Swistle post here: http://swistlebabynames.blogspot.com/2011/08/baby-naming-issues-avoiding-teen-mother.html)
Kix – Yes, Kix is a breakfast cereal. Max, Dex, Lex, Rex, Jax and nearly any other ends-in-x sound, however, are names for boys. Foster the People’s breakout hit “Pumped Up Kicks” has been unavoidable this summer. And now For Real Baby Names just spotted him in Texas. (Check out her full list: http://names4real.wordpress.com/2011/08/11/kix/) Could Kix catch on?
Mae Mobley – As I write this, I’ve yet to see the big screen adaptation of The Help that opened recently. I mentioned Octavia last week, but here’s my guess: the real name boosted by the book and movie is the child in maid Aibileen’s care: Mae. Like Ava and Audrey, she has Hollywood glam aplenty, plus she’s right in step with mini names like Mia and Zoe. It’s also another example of those “Southern double names” Nicole Kidman referenced when she and Keith Urban welcomed Faith Margaret. In the novel, Mae is always referred to by her first and middle, Mae Mobley. Mae re-entered the US Top 1000 in 2010 after four decades of obscurity.
Penelope – Ever since Christina Ricci donned a prosthetic pig snout for 2004’s modern fable, parents have rediscovered the gorgeous Greek Penelope. And why not? She’s a little bit quirky, undeniably literary, and her list of nicknames is extensive. There’s Penny and Nell, Polly and Poppy, and if you stretch a little further, maybe even Lola, Pia, or the hottest of the hot, Pippa. Of course, the real story could be Athena. Will parents get wise to this stylish goddess name now that Ms. Fey has put it on the map?
Perry – He’s been musical for decades, thanks first to crooner Perry – born Pierino – Como. I mentioned Katy Perry and The Band Perry above, and on a very different note, there’s Texas governor Rick Perry, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination.
Vivi–Anne – I spotted this one on Lifetime reality show Dance Moms. Many a re-spelling feels deeply unnecessary, but this one works. I’m guessing that Vivi–Anne’s mom Cathy was eager to name a daughter Vivian or Vivienne, but only if she could ensure that the two syllables would be pronounced with an emphasis on the –an. That’s not normally the case, of course. Choosing a name that you like only if you can insist on a counter-intuitive pronunciation can be a recipe for disaster, but the strong-willed Cathy has made it work.