Gangs of New York is a 2002 American historical drama film set in the mid-19th century in the Five Points district of New York City, directed by Martin Scorsese, and written by Jay Cocks, Steven Zaillian, and Kenneth Lonergan. The film was inspired by Herbert Asbury's 1928 non-fiction book, The Gangs of New York. It was made in Cinecittà, Rome, distributed by Miramax Films.
The violent rise of gangland power in New York City at a time of massive political corruption and the city's evolution into a cultural melting pot set the stage for this lavish historical epic, which director Martin Scorsese finally brought to the screen almost 30 years after he first began to plan the project. In 1846, as waves of Irish immigrants poured into the New York neighborhood of Five Points, a number of citizens of British and Dutch heritage who were born in the United States began making an open display of their resentment toward the new arrivals. William Cutting (Daniel Day-Lewis), better known as "Bill the Butcher" for his deadly skill with a knife, bands his fellow "Native Americans" into a gang to take on the Irish immigrants; the immigrants in turn form a gang of their own, "The Dead Rabbits," organized by Priest Vallon (Liam Neeson). After an especially bloody clash between the Natives and the Rabbits leaves Vallon dead, his son goes missing; the boy ends up in a brutal reform school before returning to the Five Points in 1862 as Amsterdam (Leonardo DiCaprio). Now a strapping adult who has learned how to fight, Amsterdam has come to seek vengeance against Bill the Butcher, whose underworld control of the Five Points through violence and intimidation dovetails with the open corruption of New York politician "Boss" Tweed (Jim Broadbent). Amsterdam gradually penetrates Bill the Butcher's inner circle, and he soon becomes his trusted assistant. Amsterdam also finds himself falling for Jenny Everdeane (Cameron Diaz), a beautiful but street-smart thief who was once involved with Bill. Amsterdam is learning a great deal from Bill, but before he can turn the tables on the man who killed his father, Amsterdam's true identity is exposed, even though he has concealed it from nearly everyone, including Jenny.
The film made $77,812,000 in Canada and the United States. It took in $23,763,699 in Japan and $16,358,580 in the United Kingdom. Worldwide the film grossed a total of $193,772,504.
Reviews of the eventual release in 2002 were generally positive, with Daniel-Day Lewis' performance receiving the most praise by critics -the review aggregating website Rotten Tomatoes reporting 75% of the 202 reviews that they tallied were favorable. The RT Critical Consensus reads, "Though flawed, the sprawling, messy Gangs of New York is redeemed by impressive production design and Day-Lewis's electrifying performance."
The film was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director (Martin Scorsese), Best Art Direction (Dante Ferretti), Best Original Song (U2 for "The Hands That Built America"), Best Actor (Daniel Day-Lewis), Best Cinematography (Michael Ballhaus), Best Costume Design (Sandy Powell), Best Editing (Thelma Schoonmaker), Best Sound (Tom Fleischman, Eugene Gearty, Ivan Sharrock), Best Original Screenplay (Jay Cocks, Steven Zaillian, Kenneth Lonergan).