4. Daniel Day Lewis -- ‘Gangs of New York’
Adorned in a stove-pipe hat, a flowing waistcoat, and a handlebar mustache that all but tugs his countenance in an acerbic sneer, the towering William Cutting, aka “Bill the Butcher” practically wells over every frame of Scorsese’s Five Points epic. Shellacked in the sweat and residue of slaughter, Cutting rules the dingy tenenments of Lower Manhattan in the years prior to the Civil War with cleaver, cudgel, and tyrannical aplomb. The real joy of any Daniel Day Lewis performance is the defining quirks and ticks he steeps into every character and Bill the Butcher has some of the best with his carnal appetite for raw beef and his propensity for tapping his glass eye with the tip of a knife. In “Gangs of New York,” Lewis shares some of the same vein-popping intensity as Lewis’s other great achievement, Daniel Plainview in “There Will Be Blood,” but Cutting’s xenophobic righteousness about “shoot(ing) each and every one” of the “Hibernian hordes” might be even more intimidating than the pitiless protagonist of Paul Thomas Anderson’s tale of captialism gone awry.