Today is the day. American decides! Will it be Clinton or Trump? Who will be the leader of the free world? The world awaits as our American cousins are literally stuck between a rock and a hard place. We here at Snooty Usher Towers have put our heads together and chosen our favourite US Presidents from the big and small screen.
When we started this, there was much rancor among us about how to set up the list. Should we do a movie list and a TV list? If so, should the movie list be split between fictional presidents and biopics? In the end we have gone for a Fictional Top 5 and what we are calling a Presidential Top 5. So, with out further ado, the ballots have closed and The Snooty Ushers present our Favourite US Presidents.
The Presidential Top 5
5. President John F. Kennedy (Ossie Davis in Bubba Ho-Tep)
James: Undoubtedly the weirdest film on the list, there was no way that we weren’t going to include Bubba Ho-Tep, the story of Elvis and JFK fighting off a mummy in a retirement home. Davis plays a version of John F. Kennedy who survived the assassination, but was dyed black and abandoned in the Shady Rest Retirement Home by his replacement Lyndon B. Johnson.
Dave: I am not sure what I can add to what James wrote, only that while his description sounds crazy, but it totally works within the context of the film. Davis’ is perfect foil for Bruce Campbell’s broken down Elvis. A sheer delight to watch.
4. President George W. Bush (Josh Brolin in W.)
James: When it came out, everyone expected W. to be an absolute hatchet job by Oliver Stone on George W Bush, but instead we got a sympathetic portrayal by Josh Brolin.
Brolin is very good, bringing an everyman quality to the most everyman of Presidents. Christian Bale dropped out pretty late in pre-production, and although he probably would have done well, it would have been a very different performance, and a very different film.
3. President John F. Kennedy (Bruce Greenwood in Thirteen Days)
Dave: While bearing very little physical resemblance to JFK, Greenwood captures the President perfectly. The film is a taut thriller which tells of how Kennedy and his advisers dealt with the Cuban Missile Crisis. Greenwood is a great actor and has never been better than he was here. Restrained and contemplative, a brilliant performance. He would also go on to play a fictional President of the USA in the Nicolas Cage classic National Treasure: Book of Secrets.
2. President Richard Nixon (Frank Langella in Frost/Nixon)
James: Surely the most notorious President, Nixon was always going to be on this list. Hopkins is very good in Nixon but Frank Langella is even better in this film. Playing opposite Michael Sheen’s excellent David Frost, he doesn’t humanise Nixon as much as Hopkins (or Brolin did with Bush), but this is just Nixon as an opponent for Frost, defending his actions around Watergate. There there is enough shade given to the caricature to earn a spot this high on this list.
Dave: Frost/Nixon was my favourite film of 2008. Peter Morgan adapted the film from his own play and both Langella as Nixon and Michael Sheen as Frost reprise their roles from the stage. Langella knows this character inside and out and it shows, yes he is more of a caricature than Hopkins version and this is Sheen’s show with Langella serving as a worthy adversary. The film is almost an exhibition of acting and screen writing. Brilliant.
1. President Abraham Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln)
James: Daniel Day-Lewis gives one of his best performances in this 2012 film from Steven Spielberg. It’s a truly towering performance, emanating the power and integrity of Honest Abe, and deservedly won him a record third Oscar.
However, you should know the Snooty Ushers well enough that the “quality”of his acting is not enough to top a prestigious list like this. Lincoln focus on the 16th President trying to gain support for the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, which would outlaw the ownership of slaves. Because of this, it features lots of political maneuvering and brinkmanship, but does it in such an entertaining way!
Personally, Daniel Day-Lewis in Gangs Of New York is “acting” too much. Here though he disappears totally into the role – although it’s easier when your playing such a famous character – and is truly fantastic.
Congratulations on getting this number 1!
Top 5 Fictional Presidents
5. President Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey in House of Cards)
James: The only President whose rise to power we see play out, Frank Underwood is more like Iago than Abe Lincoln. A true schemer, Underwood does show his frailties and weakness, especially when he clashes with his wife Claire (Robin Wright)
Dave: I struggled with this inclusion as the character is just so despicable. I voted for President Palmer from 24, but in the end I agreed with James. Spacey is fantastic in the role and his scheming performance and just how easily he breaks the 4th wall and brings in the viewer makes his a worthy addition to the list.
4. President Tom Beck (Morgan Freeman in Deep Impact)
James: If anyone has to announce that the Earth is going to be hit by a meteorite, I hope it is Morgan Freeman. I can’t imagine a better way to be told about the end of the world.
Dave: Deep Impact was the other film about a meteorite and was blown away by Armageddon. James is 100% spot on, in a film so dull, he is the bright spot and if you are to be told about the end of the world, I would like him to do it.
3. President James Marshall (Harrison Ford in Air Force One)
James: Imagine if Indiana Jones became President of the United States. A tough stance on negotiating with terrorists (“If you give a mouse a cookie, he’ll want a glass of milk”) he is also a highly intelligent, witty, and strategic President who has managed to build a good relationship with Russia, and that is a far fetched as finding the Ark if the Covenant.
Dave: A kick ass president who single handedly takes on a gang of Russian terrorists when they hijack his plane. A brilliant action film where you totally believe that this President was an ex-solider and there are few actors who could pull this off. Indiana Jones? try if John McLane was President….one of those films that makes you ask; “if only he really was The President”
2. President Thomas Whitmore (Bill Pullman in Independence Day)
James: The most heroic President on film gives one of the most rousing speeches on film. Even in the lackluster sequel there was some interesting stuff with him dealing with PTSD and survivor’s guilt.
Dave: I have nothing to say about this President other than his delivery of the speech in Independence Day is quite simply one of the greatest monologues of all time, ever. I haven’t seen the sequel and don’t plan to, I want to remember President Whitmore this way.
1. President Josiah Bartlet (Martin Sheen in The West Wing)
James: There was no other possible choice. Take it away Dave!
Dave: The West Wing is my all time favourite TV show, created and brilliantly written by Aaron Sorkin, this ensemble drama about The President of The United States and his closest staff has a wonderful cast. Martin Sheen is pretty much everyone’s ideal President. He is educated, articulate, considerate, loyal and inspirational. With no whiff of a sex scandal or adultery, he loves his wife and family and is deeply religious. The West Wing can lean a little to far to the left sometimes, but that is a small criticism as Martin Sheen gives us the perfect President. If only he was real, if only when our American friends go to the ballets they could check the box that reads Bartlet For America…
Thanks for reading. Hope you folks enjoyed yourselves, catch ya later on down the trail.