YMMV / Gangs of New York

  • Adaptation Displacement: The nonfiction book was a famous bestseller in its day and indeed in its year of publication(in the 1920s) created a wave of interest in what was, even then, a bygone era and was highly regarded by the likes of Jorge Luis Borges. Scorsese had wanted to adapt it since the 1970s.
  • Anti-Climax Boss: Though the scene itself is climactic to all hell, Bill and Amsterdam trade a little more than a few swipes, then get thrown on their asses by cannon fire. It's ultimately a piece of rebar to the gut that does Bill in, with Amsterdam helping along.
  • Award Snub: Nominated for 10 Academy Awards, won none.
    • Out of the 5 actors nominated for the Best Actor Oscar that year, Daniel Day-Lewis was the one who received the most prior awards for his performance, winning several awards (including the BAFTA and the SAG). Coming into Oscar night, Day-Lewis was the likely favorite, and yet he didn't win.(Though as he lost to Adrien Brody in The Pianist, and that Day-Lewis wasn't technically the lead actor, the loss is justified.)
    • Averted with the nomination for "Best Original Song": "The Hands That Built America" lost to "Lose Yourself," the first hip-hop song to be honored with the award, which is hardly a snub.
  • Awesome Ego: There are two occasions when Bill responds to a cheering crowd with a dismissive, even bored, royal wave. Rather than coming off as pretentious or pompous, his arrogance comes across as so totally justified that the moments appear on the Moment of Awesome page. Excellently summed up in his formal introduction to Amsterdam:
    Bill: What is your name?
    Amsterdam: Amsterdam, sir.
    Bill: Amsterdam? I'm New York.
  • Awesome Music: U2's "The Hands That Built America".
    • The whole anachronistic soundtrack is amazing for the blend of different music. Peter Gabriel's "Signal to Noise" scores the opening fight, "Vows" by Brian Dunning which plays over the finale. "Shimmy She Wobble", by Othar Turner's Fife and Drum Blues which is the general fight music, there's also "Dark Moon, High Tide" by the Afro-Celt Sound System.
    • And of course the few folk songs thrown in, "My friend Hattie, New York Girls" and especially "Paddy's Lamentation" which plays over the Epic Tracking Shot showing immigrant arriving and force-enlisted into the army.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: Amsterdam looks out across the lake where there are people dancing in front of a fire. The scene shifts immediately after. What?
    • Fairly certain this is to show where he gets the idea that he presents to Bill in the next scene when the police break up a boxing match; the dancers are black people who likely couldn't do their dance in the city, ergo the solution is to hold the boxing match outside the city limits as it's only illegal inside the city.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Bill Cutting. Not that anyone else in the movie is a good person, but for some reason Bill gets lionized above others due to his badass factor.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Happy Jack, Monk Mc Ginn, and Hellcat Maggie. The last one all the more impressive for actually being a real person.
  • Evil Is Cool: Bill Cutting is a vicious, xenophobic warlord and murderer. He's also cuttingly funny, twistedly ingenious, just noble enough for the audience not to hate him, and oozes charisma thanks to Daniel Day-Lewis' magnificent acting. He has an American Eagle patterned glass eye for crying out loud. The former part doesn't erase the latter, in fact, if anything, it adds to his appeal.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Daniel Day-Lewis played Abraham Lincoln in Lincoln. Extremely hilarious when you think about Bill the Butcher shouting "Down with the Union!" during a performance of Uncle Tom's Cabin and throwing a knife through a picture of Lincoln earlier in the film. Made even funnier with the fact Day-Lewis was nominated for Best Actor Oscars for both roles and won with Lincoln instead of Gangs.
    • Also, Bill's rival in this movie was played by Liam Neeson, who not only was the original choice for the role of Lincoln, but gave a notorious Take That! against Day-Lewis and his Method Actor style in an interview, claiming that he could rely on his own acting talent for a role and didn't need to "live like the part" the way Day-Lewis is famous for.
  • Lawful Neutral: Bill "The Butcher" Cutting is definitely this. He's a community leader who cares deeply for his city, country and his American countrymen. He is also a racist, ruthless killer who tries to manipulate the law to his own advantage wherever possible, forging political alliances that benefit him, but he has limits imposed by his principles of honour which he will not bend or stretch at any price.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Bill the Butcher. Particularly remarkable because Bill does not display the flawless complex planning or subtle manipulation that are normally associated with magnificent bastards. In fact, it is quite clear that he knows he's fighting a losing battle, and will go down fighting anyway for his principles, but is also a hypocrite with some of those same principles. Despite these significant failings, he is such an electrifyingly charismatic character that he manages to inspire awe rather than disgust. All kudos to Daniel Day-Lewis for managing to pull this off so gloriously.
  • Narm:
    • Amsterdam's narration that the New York of his time was more like "a furnace where a city might someday be forged" comes off as an incredibly contrived and cheesy bit of exposition.
    • Also McGloin's somewhat ridiculous declaration of racism: "THERE'LL BE NO NIG-NOGGERY HERE! NONE!"
    • In the fight at the beginning of the film, Hell-cat Maggie somehow manages to leap high enough into the air that she can swoop down on an unsuspecting enemy and bite his ear off. One thinks of Batman: Arkham Asylum.
    • Daniel Day-Lewis's entire performance as Bill the Butcher is unintentionally funny based just on the sheer absurdity of his over the top accent and behavior. Of course for some that's just Narm Charm.
  • Romantic Plot Tumour: See High-Heel–Face Turn in the main section for how unjustified Jenny's turn against Bill is.
  • The Scrappy: Jenny, as well as Cameron Diaz's performance, is generally regarded to be the worst bit of the film.
  • So Okay, It's Average: While on its own it is considered a good movie, this is usually considered to be lesser Scorsese. Usually, mind you. However, the movie has grown in reputation since. It also has many a Big Name Fan like George MacDonald Fraser.
  • Spiritual Antithesis: To The Age of Innocence, the other Old New York Scorsese-Daniel Day-Lewis movie, which is set 10 years later.
  • Tearjerker: The ending.
    "In the end, they put candles on the bodies, so's their friends — if they had any — could know them in the dark. The city did this free of charge. It was four days and nights before the worst of the mob was finally put down. We never knew how many New Yorkers died that week before the city was finally delivered. My father once told me we was all born of blood and tribulation. So then, too, was our great city. But for those of us who had lived and died in them furious days... it was like everything we knew was mightily swept away. And no matter what they did to build this city back up again — for the rest of time — it would be like nobody even knew we was ever here."