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Oscars 2009

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In the depth of every February, America gets a little dose of glamour to get us through the winter doldrums. A sparkling Charlize Theron or Halle Berry floats to the Oscar podium for a shiny gold statue to display on her bookshelf (or in her bathroom or closet, if we believe the self-deprecating interviews).

American parents love to take a little of that glamour home with them—in the form of newly-minted, Oscar-approved baby names.

Checking out the popular-name charts, it’s clear that the names Charlize and Halle benefited from big Oscar bumps after their famous namesakes took home award night gold. Charlize came out of nowhere to leapfrog old favorites like Stacy and Deborah. Halle sailed for years after Berry's turn in Monster's Ball. And it’s not just the girls having Oscar night fun. Gladiator, the testosterone-fueled best picture winner of 2000, sent the impossibly macho name Maximus soaring. The golden glow of a winner rubs off.

This year, though, parents aren't likely to have as much to "thank the Academy" for. A bumper crop of '70s biopics yields slim pickings for name hunters: Harvey (Milk)? Dick (Nixon)? Most parents will pass. Even a best actress win for the beautiful Kate Winslet won’t do much for her name, already an established classic.

But there may be one film in the Oscar race with a real shot at influencing America's naming trends. It's the Cinderella story of the year, Slumdog Millionaire. A story of the slums of Mumbai may seem an unlikely source of naming inspiration, but the Indian film industry has surprising power over names, even in the U.S. A 2006 Bollywood superhero flick made the name Krish one of the fastest rising names in America.

Some of the Slumdog names like Jamal and Salim are already familiar to American ears. Even more likely to rise is the name of the female lead, Latika. It’s not tough to picture little Latikas fitting in with all the Lilys and Annikas running around U.S. playgrounds. The fact that Latika is is played by the stunning Indian actress Freida Pinto will only sweeten the deal. For boys, I'd look toward lead actor Dev Patel. Dev is the kind of short and snappy boy's name that parents are always after.

Comments

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February 22, 2009 11:24 PM
By Christina (not verified)

I can see "Krish" becoming big...it has several things going for it.

1. It's an ethnic name that doesn't stray too far from the English tongue (like Arun, and unlike, say, Ekaatmaa)

2. It sounds like a fresh, updated version of a name that was wildly popular in the previous decades (Chris)

3. It's brisk and snappy, like Cade or Trent

4. It contains the all-powerful letter K!

February 23, 2009 9:14 PM
By Jan (not verified)

How about Penelope getting a boost? It's already becoming more popular in certain circles but the Oscars could broaden its appeal.

February 24, 2009 1:49 PM
By Jeanette (not verified)

Inspired by the Slumdog "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" question re: Musketeers, I love the name Aramis! It's masculine, romantic, unusual without being weird. Oh, and do any bloggers remember the name of the FOURTH Musketeer?

February 25, 2009 6:32 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Don't forget that "Oscar" is rising in popularity!

February 26, 2009 9:02 PM
By Alexandre Dumas (not verified)

The three musketeers were Athos, Porthos and Aramis. Their close companion was d'Artagnan. Hard to see a modern baby named after any of those guys but Aramis!

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