Award Snub: Much to everyone's surprise the only nomination this movie got was Best Sound Editing at the Oscars. Notably left off were Ryan Gosling and Albert Brooks for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor respectively. Brooks' omission was particularly surprising, given how he had won a slew of the major critics' awards and had earned nominations at the BFCA and the Golden Globes.
Creepy Awesome: The driver never blinks, has only a few lines of dialogue, and barely expresses any emotion. The only thing keeping him from being The Sociopath outright is his obvious affection for Irene. In spite of being walking Nightmare Fuel, however, he's still a badass.
Critical Dissonance: Critics and festival audiences have loved this movie, however its box office success did not reflect the massive internet buzz this generated. Though, to be fair, crime movies by Danish directors released by small-time distributors don't make $20 million in two weeks.
Cult Classic: As mentioned above, the film slowly became a favorite over the years, and its very popular on places like /tv/, to the point where you'll have a hard time not finding a thread about the film, even a decade after its release.
Fridge Horror: Since Irene probably didn't call the police after Driver smashed a hitman's head in, the body would probably have remained there, scaring any poor resident of the apartment block who uses the elevator.
The memetic song with the lyrics "A real human being. And a real hero." gains a prophetic twist when you consider one of Ryan Gosling's later roles. Not to mention that both movies sees Gosling's character drowning a villain in the Pacific Ocean after ramming their car, getting into a fight with a knife welding opponent that leaves him seriously injured, before it ends with the film playing coy about whether the protagonist survives or not.
Standard, Irene's husband and Benecio's father. He may have been arrested for bank robbery and he may appear to be a bit hostile to The Driver but he's ultimately shown to be a decent man when he's released who wants to be a changed man and genuinely love his wife and son. He also befriends The Driver only to be shot to death.
The Driver. He's a stuntman and a mechanic who doubles as a criminal and a getaway driver. He also has anger problems and he's not afraid to use violence when it's absolutely necessary. However, it's implied (but not confirmed) that he had a rough life beforehand and before meeting Irene and her son it's possible that his only friend was Shannon. When he finally becomes close with Irene, her husband gets released from prison disappointing him greatly. When he manages to befriend Standard, he witnesses him getting shot dead right before his eyes. He breaks down violently and emotionally in the elevator while beating a hitman to death which dampens his relationship with Irene, finds Shannon's dead body and is forced to leave Irene and her son before finishing off the last criminal in order to ensure their safety (and that was before he got stabbed in the stomach). By the end it's hard not to feel sorry for him when he tearfully drives away.
Magnificent Bastard: The unnamed Driver is a cool, suave stunt driver who moonlights as a getaway driver for criminals. Promising his clients complete confidentiality and an assured getaway should they employ him, the Driver regularly pulls off incredible evasions of pursuing police and even helicopters, having a spotless record. After growing attached to his neighbor and her son, the Driver goes to any length to protect the two, from helping their husband and father pull off a robbery to waging a war against the criminals Bernie and Nino, ultimately killing the two and driving off into the night, successful in all his ventures except for living a peaceful life with the woman he loves.
The official trailer for the movie is this, especially if you watch it after watching the movie. Some fans even regard it as one of the worst trailers ever on account of how massively deceiving it is, to the point it might as well have been for a whole other movie.
The film can easily be seen as a film adaptation of Grand Theft Auto III with some details changed. Both have Film Noir elements, don't shy away from violence, and star a Silent Protagonist who wears an unique jacket. The main plot is about avenging someone who was betrayed and shot during a robbery the protagonist was involved in. The protagonist forms a relationship with a woman whose husband has a criminal past. The protagonist helps the husband, who dies not too long after the protagonist enters their life. Both even have an Ambiguous Ending that leaves the fate of a main character open.
Hotline Miami owes a massive debt of influence to the film, so much so that director Nicolas Winding Refn is specifically thanked in the credits. Accordingly, the two works share a retro 1980s-themed neon- and synth-heavy aesthetic (with Hotline actually being set in the 1980s); a mysterious, nameless protagonist who talks very little, if at all, and is known primarily by an instantly recognizable jacket; and graphic depictions of shockingly brutal violence (one of the game's finishing moves even looks very similar to the infamous head-stomping scene from Drive).
Tear Jerker: Irene and the Driver are alienated from each other seconds after their first kiss when he kills a thug in front of her. She returns to knock on his door some time later with a look of reconciliation, but he's gone. They're never going to meet again. The look on his face in the end says it all...