The 15 Best Portrayals of Real-Life Gangsters in Movies

2. Daniel Day-Lewis as "Bill the Butcher," Gangs of New York (2002)

In Steven Spielberg's Lincoln, Daniel Day-Lewis, per usual, gives a gargantuan performance our nation's 16th president, but there's something missing, something that's there in There Will be Blood and Gangs of New York. That thing: maniacal ruthlessness.

In our opinion, Day-Lewis at his best when he's being ferocious, and in Martin Scorsese's mid-19th-century-set epic Gangs of New York, his work as the cold-blooded, bloodthirsty crime overseer Bill the Butcher (based on Bowery Boys leader William Poole) is madness personified. The actor snarls and roars his way through a role that's equal parts magnetic and repulsive.

His dynamic evilness manifests itself greatly in a scene where the Butcher tosses a knife at underling Amsterdam Vallon (Leonardo Dicaprio) and beats the shit out of him, leaving him a bloody mess and with the parting words that he'll let Amsterdam live as a "freak worthy of Barnum's museum of wonders."

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