Why do we watch the Oscars? Are we deciding which movies to watch next? Getting confirmation for our cinematic opinions? Simply looking at the pretty people and hearing their heartfelt speeches? Admiring fashions we’ll never afford? Here’s one more reason to add to your list: baby-name inspiration.
This year’s crop of Oscar nominees has a lot of familiar names and faces — for instance, the entire set of supporting actor nominees. But there are also some refreshing newbies to the ceremony, when you look a little more closely. Little Women‘s Florence Pugh, nominated for best supporting actress, has a name we’ve been saying over and over in our head, just for fun. Same with directors Taika Waititi and Bong Joon Ho.
Nameberry cofounder Pamela Redmond Satran agrees that movie stars have a huge influence over baby-naming trends, and the 2020 Oscar nominees are no exception.
“Saoirse Ronan has been one of the biggest surprise celebrity name influencers of recent years, considering how unusual and even difficult her name is,” she told SheKnows. “Joaquin [Phoenix] and Scarlett [Johansson] have both been hugely influential. Scarlett Johansson did for her name what Scarlett O’Hara did not. We are seeing Quentin and Margot on the rise too, and I’m betting Florence will catch on the U.S. as Florence Pugh’s star rises.”
Here we have some of our favorite names from the Oscar list, just in case one of them suddenly strikes you as the perfect name for your little one too.
Cynthia and Harriet
Cynthia Erivo’s powerful performance in Harriet earned her a best actress nod and it may earn both names a bit of attention. After being too popular in the last century, we think Cynthia (a Greek name referring to moon goddess Artemis’ home, Mount Cynthus) deserves a comeback. Naming your daughter Harriet, which means “ruler of the home,” would be a great way to honor Harriet Tubman while we wait for her to get that spot on the 20-dollar bill.
Joker star Joaquin Phoenix is a favorite to win actor in a leading role. Joaquin means “god will judge.” He also used to call himself “Leaf,” if you’re looking for something a little softer.
Nominated both for Marriage Story and Jojo Rabbit, Scarlett Johansson’s been inspiring parents to use her colorful name — with the double-T — for two decades now, according to Nameberry.
Saoirse and Jo
Little Women star and best actress nominee Saoirse Ronan spent many an interview in her early career schooling us on how to pronounce her name, which is Irish and means “liberty.” (For the record, it’s SEER-sha.) Her campaign seems to have worked and it’s on the rise. Considering how much we loved her version of the Louisa May Alcott heroine, we’re putting forth “Jo” as a great name option too.
Timothée, Teddy and Laurie
While we’re on the subject of Little Women, let’s take another look at Timothée Chalamet, shall we? We don’t imagine a lot of moms are quite ready to do the whole “it’s pronounced, Tim-oh-TAY” spiel over and over (the name means “god fearing”). They can instead derive inspiration from his character, Theodore (“god-given”) Laurence (from laurel leaves). Laurie makes an excellent gender-neutral name, doesn’t it?
The German name Greta (which means “pearl”) has never been enormously popular in the U.S., but Little Women‘s director and screenwriter (nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay this year) could change that.
According to Nameberry, Florence (Latin for “flourishing”) was a very hot name from 1886-1906. With Little Women star and supporting actress nominee Florence Pugh leading the way, it could trend upwards again.
With the rise of grandfatherly names of late, and the popularity of The Irishman, we think director Martin Scorsese might see a new generation taking his name. It means “warring,” though, so be careful what you’re asking for.
Charlize Theron did cause a spike in babies taking her name when she last won the Oscar in 2004 for Monster. Maybe her best actress nod for Bombshell will do it again for the South African version of Charles.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood director Quentin Tarantino doesn’t exactly make us think of innocent little babies, but his name (“fifth” in Latin) would make a great girl’s name.
Though New Zealander director Taika Waititi (nominated for Jojo Rabbit) is of Jewish and Maori descent, his first name is actually Finnish and means “magic.” Now we love it even more.
Mexican costume designer Mayes Rubeo (Jojo Rabbit) is the first Latina to be nominated for a best costume Oscar. Mayes is a version of May or Maya, as well as an English surname, and it also works as a boy’s name.
Parasite director Bong Joon Ho follows the Korean tradition of family name first, given name second. Joon Ho, also spelled Jun-Ho, is a name of Chinese origin that means “talented and handsome.” Who wouldn’t want that for their kids?
Writer and director Rian Johnson (nominated for best screenplay for Knives Out) uses the alternate spelling for Ryan (Irish, “little king”) that we’re used to seeing as a girl’s name — which, there’s nothing particularly more feminine about an “i” than a “y,” so go ahead and use it for either!
Is Bombshell best supporting actress nominee Margot Robbie the reason her French name (meaning: “pearl”) jumped in American popularity, rising from #944 in 2013 to #358 in 2018? Probably not. But we won’t dare stop Harley Quinn from taking credit for anything.
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