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29 December 2016updated 01 Aug 2021 7:03am

The best facial expressions of 2016

Face off.

By Anoosh Chakelian

The ravages of this year are written all over the following faces:

The horror of Chris Christie, March 2016

YouTube screengrab

This is a silent scream into the void. The solemn despair of a man who is no longer a man, but merely a fleshy shell of regret with eyes: two watery windows to a panic room. This was the face that former Republican contender Chris Christie made after he’d dropped out of the race to the presidential candidacy. Standing behind Donald Trump, face stricken with horror, feet first in the dustbin of history.


George Osborne looking worse for wear. Again. March 2016

BBC screengrab

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The tectonic plates of British politics may forever and rapidly be shifting, but one constant is that George Osborne always looks a little bit intoxicated. In this instance, following his Budget delivery in March, he has the face of someone slowly, hysterically, building up to a laugh. Or perhaps a big cry. I don’t know. Who are you? How long have we been in here? Wow, your teeth are shaped like a rainbow. I love you.

Still looking glazed in October…

…and it looks like he hasn’t calmed down since 2014:

Iain Duncan Smith’s crocodile tears, April 2016

BBC screengrab

That face when you let the welfare budget be slashed to tatters and introduce a rubbish, punitive new benefits scheme and then it dawns on you that people are actually struggling. You know the feeling! When you punish people for being ill and disabled and force scattergun and arbitrary sanctions upon those who have the least and then you realise that they might just be humans too. Yeah, that! Classic.

Well, here’s then-Work & Pensions Secretary IDS crying in an interview about a single mother he’d met on a council estate. Too little, too late, pal.

The many faces of Zac Goldsmith’s failure, May and December 2016

All: Getty

…and even in cartoon form:

Losing the mayoralty to Sadiq Khan left him ashen-faced, but the pictures of him standing sheepishly beside the Monster Raving Loony candidate having lost his own seat to the Lib Dems in a by-election he triggered are the most degrading of the lot:

All: Getty

Seumas Milne disagrees, June 2016

VICE News screengrab

Jeremy Corbyn’s strategy director Seumas Milne gave a very accomplished Quietly Fuming Stare when the Labour leader refused to put more attacks in his speech against George Osborne’s disastrous budget and Iain Duncan Smith’s resignation. This beautiful scene of death by eye contact was captured on the VICE documentary that gave an insight into how Corbyn’s team works behind the scenes.

He has the clenched jaw, furrowed brow, pursed lips, tongue bitten to shreds and eyes flickering with unspoken rage – an expression favoured by everyone who feels intense disdain for a superior but cannot voice it, from Karren Brady’s forced poker face whenever Alan Sugar mangles a metaphor on The Apprentice to Gromit every time Wallace suggests another madcap plan.

VICE News screengrab

John McDonnell staring down the camera, July 2016

BBC screengrabs

This is the shadow chancellor’s direct-to-camera appeal for Labour members and MPs not to “destroy” the party by opposing Jeremy Corbyn. Breaking the fourth wall for Marr Show audiences who had hitherto been blissfully suspended in disbelief that our politicians could ever appear so desperate.

It was an extraordinary display. Like if your bank manager suddenly did an unprompted impression of the Demon Headmaster. Or when unhinged criminals aren’t afraid of CCTV cameras and want you to know it. Or a hostage video.

Bill Clinton loves balloons, July 2016

YouTube screengrab

This is really the face of the crisis of modern masculinity, isn’t it? You were big once. You were important, and ran things. You called the shots. Then your women started getting all the attention. They are more competent, after all. And harder working. And stronger. With expertise and nuance and grit. Just keep playing with the balloons, son. Just smile and watch the balloons bounce by. You’ll be back in charge soon enough.

Michael Gove sans charisma and glamour, July 2016

BBC screengrab

Sometimes a picture speaks a thousand leadership bids.

Tom Watson on the front bench, July 2016 onwards

BBC screengrab

The deputy Labour leader Tom Watson watches PMQs unfold as the captain of the Titanic observed the offending iceberg as his ship sailed by. Every week. He has even acknowledged this expression he’s adopted for any situation in which his leader stands up before the Commons:

“At PMQs I always try to get myself into a Buddha-like state. I try not to have any facial expression at all. Because if I laugh at a Jeremy joke, two hours later on social media it’s either interpreted as me laughing at Jeremy, or laughing at an opposition joke,” he told the Guardian. “Or, if I scowl at something someone says, people are accusing me of scowling at Jeremy. So I try to keep a straight face, which everyone always interprets as me looking really sad and miserable. That’s actually not the case. I’m generally just trying to remain expressionless.”

No, Tom, that is very much an expression.

The Kiss: Nigel Farage and Diane James, September 2016


Let’s face it, we’ve all been both of these people at certain moments in life.