I decided instead to look at the leads to the film that was the best picture winner for 1981. Chariots of Fire is often derided among best picture winners, even the nominees of that year, but it's one best picture winner that I will defend to my last breath. I love pretty much everything about the film actually, and I really like the two performances that lead the film. Unlike most films about two men, the two men actually don't interact that much as they have only one scene where they even talk to each other which actually is only a slightly awkward greeting. They are united though by their passion for running, which brings them to the Olympics, and the way their faiths drive them.
Cross is rather intense in his performance by he is able to show the nature of the intensity. Cross makes this intensity as something that Abrahams has devised through his experience through life. He is often mocked in someway, Abrahams never outright reacts to this rather Cross keeps Abrahams slightly belligerent most of the time, even some of the time when he is not he is quick to become so if he thinks he is being threatened. Cross expresses this as his defense mechanism to frankly always show his distaste for his treatment at all times, but this is not the man which is important to his character. When Abrahams is with his good friend Aubrey or his future wife, Cross reveals a much more tender calmer man behind that shield he uses to protect against the discrimination.
Charleson's two best scenes in the film are his two sermons one from the bible, and one that Charleson actually wrote himself. Both of the speeches are flawlessly delivered by Charleson as he brings out such a power in the words. Charleson firstly brings such devotion in his delivery which always stress the deep belief that Liddell had, and just how much following the Lord's word meant to him. Charleson never overplays the moment to make the seems overly grand in nature, but instead gently tells the speeches. Charleson does not portray Liddell as a man who is trying to force anyone to believe, but rather a man who humbly asks them to because the strength he finds in his faith.
Both men are very fast, although their running style vastly differ and Charleson and Cross even make the style of running as part of their character. Cross is very straight forward and determined as Cross wishes to use his running as a way to override people's view of him. Cross, therefore runs straight with this purpose as the running is the only thing he thinks about it. Charleson is rather different though as Liddell believes showing off his God given talent brings glory to him. Charleson in turn plays the running as a joyous experience for Liddell who seems almost one with the heavens as he almost seems to float across the track in his most unorthodox running style.
Both actors realizes their characters, and realize the unique dynamic between the two in a marvelous fashion. Charleson and Cross both gives the story of two men who can run fast, and manage to create two distinctly different drives and passions in the men who come from very different places but end up technically reaching the same goals in the end. Although even their success still does not bridge the gap as Liddell is overjoyed by the experience and Abrahams actually is a bit perplexed, that result is really the only natural for these two men who Charleson and Cross realize so well in their performances that drive this great picture, that's right great picture you wanna make something out of it?