* AwesomeMusic: Creator/StevenSpielberg was aiming to direct the movie; [[Film/{{Chicago}} Rob Marshall]] ultimately did so, but Spielberg remained on board as one of the producers - and his regular composer JohnWilliams rose to the occasion.
* BestKnownForTheFanservice: The mizuage scene was so controversial that it's probably the best-known moment of the film (and thus what makes casual observers remember most about geisha, much to the chagrin of real geisha).
* BrokenBase: The casting of the three Chinese actresses (though Creator/MichelleYeoh is Malaysian with Chinese descent) as Japanese characters sparked furor among the Chinese and Japanese audiences. While the Japanese are upset that no Japanese actress got any of the main roles, the Chinese were very hostile about it which doesn't help that the fragile historical relationship between the two countries since UsefulNotes/WorldWarII which the movie is set in only fanned more flames. However, several people such as Ken Watanabe defended the cast, citing the actresses' performances was the reason for the casting.
* DracoInLeatherPants: Aside from being enemies of Sayuri, Hatsumomo and Pumpkin earned this kind of attention from the movie's audience.
* EnsembleDarkhorse: Many people find Hatsumomo the best thing in TheMovie.
* JerkassWoobie: Pumpkin. Not as ''pretty'' as Sayuri, not as ''talented'' as Sayuri, not as ''smart'' as Sayuri, not as ''lucky'' as Sayuri, and browbeaten by her [[NoHeroToHisValet supposed mentor]] Hatsumomo into the bargain. Oh, and Sayuri is unwittingly responsible for Pumpkin's downfall.
* RootingForTheEmpire: Hatsumomo and Pumpkin gets this treatment from some viewers, similar thing can be said for Nobu. For Pumpkin and Nobu, also see UnintentionallySympathetic below.
* UnintentionallySympathetic:
** Pumpkin's revenge against Sayuri is meant to be a major KickTheDog, but as she points out to Sayuri, Sayuri took Pumpkin's life goal of becoming officially adopted by the okiya and becoming one of the most successful geisha in Gion, and she ''didn't really even want that''; it was all just "a stepping stone" to get to the Chairman. Under those circumstances, it's easy to feel like Pumpkin's revenge was justified, even if Sayuri hadn't ''meant'' to ruin Pumpkin's life.%%* UnfortunateImplications: ''Several.'' Let's just say that Arthur Golden didn't do much research on several fronts [[RuleOfCautiousEditingJudgement and leave it at that.]]
** Similarly to the Pumpkin situation, Nobu's reaction to Sayuri could be seen as extreme, but she did make him believe she loved him, under instruction from Mameha, so his feelings of betrayal when she and the Chairman get together is pretty justified, especially as the Chairman pretty much orchestrated the whole thing.
* TheWoobie: Chiyo, at least until Mameha decides to take her on.