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These Older First-Time Oscar Winners Prove Good Things Can Happen Later In The Game

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THE 83RD ACADEMY AWARDS¨ - GENERAL - Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2010 were presented on Sunday, February 27, 2011, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center, and televised live as 'The 83rd Annual Academy Awards' on the ABC Television Network.(Photo by Craig Sjodin/ABC via Getty Images)COLIN FIRTH | Craig Sjodin via Getty Images

They say nothing worth having comes easily and nobody can attest to that more than an Academy Award winner. The ultimate honor of the silver screen doesn't just come with the glory of the golden statue, it also comes with lifelong bragging rights, A-list status, and if you're unlucky-- a very special sort of curse.

While some actors and actresses get lucky, hitting the bullseye as newcomers a la Jennifer Lawrence, more often than not it takes a career of stellar performances to earn recognition. As Hollywood starts catering to an older demographic we're also seeing veteran actors and actresses in leading roles more often. In fact, the average age to win an Academy Award has increased by five years for actresses since the 1950s and around 14 years for actors. Several of this year's nominees are post 50, including Bruce Dern, Meryl Streep, Judi Dench, June Squibb, and Martin Scorsese.

Here are 9 actors and actresses that show silver status is golden.
  • Jeff Bridges, 60
    AP
    It took Jeff Bridges four nominations and nearly four decades until he struck gold on his fifth nomination for his leading role in the 2009 film "Crazy Heart." Bridges' acceptance speech included a touching tribute to his parents. "Thank you, Mom and Dad, for turning me on to such a groovy profession," Bridges said.
  • Helen Mirren, 61
    Getty Images
    Over a decade after her first Oscar nomination, Dame Helen walked away with a golden statue for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II in the 2006 film, "The Queen." "All kids love to get gold stars and this is the biggest and the best gold star that I have ever had in my life," Mirren said in her acceptance speech.
  • Anthony Hopkins, 54
    Ron Galella/WireImage
    "A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti," Hopkins' character Hannibal Lecter says in what is one of the most memorable movie quotes of all time. His role in 1991's "Silence of the Lambs" earned Hopkins his first nomination and win for best actor. He's since been nominated three more times, but any subsequent wins have evaded him.
  • Kathryn Bigelow, 58
    Getty Images
    Bigelow won not only the award, but won battle of the exes and broke barriers. In 2010, Bigelow beat out ex-husband James Cameron and three other male contenders to become the first woman to ever win the Oscar for Best Director. Amazing.
  • Colin Firth, 50
    Getty Images
    Fifty was a good year for Firth. He won his first Oscar on only his second nomination in 2011 for "The King's Speech." "I have a feeling my career has just peaked...I'm afraid I have to warn you that I'm experiencing stirrings, somewhere in the upper abdominals, which are threatening to form themselves into dance moves which, joyous as they may be for me, it would be extremely problematic if they make it to my legs before I get offstage. So I'm going to do my best to be brief with my gratitude," Firth charmingly quipped in his acceptance speech. But with several film roles since the win, we think we'll be seeing a lot more of him.
  • Judi Dench, 64
    Getty Images
    Dame Judi won her first Oscar for her supporting role in "Shakespeare in Love." She's been nominated five times since then and is a nominee for Sunday's awards. "I do think also that the best bit about the Academy Awards is being nominated. You live in a kind of haze for several weeks, and the terrible thing is that somebody's got to win," Dench said in her 1999 acceptance speech.
  • Al Pacino, 52
    Getty Images
    It was a long road to the golden statue for Al Pacino, who was first nominated 20 years before his 1993 win for "Scent of a Woman." Pacino famously started his speech by joking, "You broke my streak." "I had this thought," he continued, "and I thought if I ever got up here I would say it. I've been very lucky. I found desire for what I do early in my life and I'm lucky because I had people who encouraged that desire."
  • Melissa Leo, 50
    AP
    Just like fellow winner Colin Firth, 50 was good to Melissa Leo who won her first Oscar for her supporting role in "The Fighter" in 2011. Leo was obviously overcome with the win and being on stage, memorably dropping the f-bomb mid-speech!
  • Martin Scorsese, 64
    Getty Images
    Scorsese is hands down the greatest example of perseverance in awards show history. The director didn't win his first Oscar until over a whopping 25 years after his first nomination. He finally won the award on his seventh nomination for 2007's "The Departed." The director opened his acceptance speech with 13 consecutive thank you's, followed by a simple request. "Could you double-check the envelope?" he joked. "So many people over the years have been wishing this for me, strangers, you know," Scorsese said. "I go walking in the street people say something to me, I go in a doctor's office, I go in a...whatever...elevators, people are saying, "You should win one, you should win one." I go for an x-ray, "You should win one." And I'm saying,"Thank you."

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