01/15/2012 02:38 pm ET Updated Mar 16, 2012

Golden Globes 2012 Nominees Give Actresses In Their 40s Their Due

We already know it's been the year of the female comedian, otherwise known as "The Bridesmaids Effect." However, perusing the list of Golden Globe nominees, it also seems to have been the year of the 40-something actress.

Ageism is still alive and well in Hollywood -- no one is questioning that. Just last fall an actress filed a lawsuit against IMDB for revealing her age, claiming that it had cost her potential roles. And though 24.3 percent of the U.S. population is made up of women over 40, CBS News reported that this demographic only gets about half that percentage of TV and film roles. However, looking at the 2012 Golden Globe nominees, you wouldn't know it. Eleven of the female nominees are in their 40s, and many of the others (Jessica Lange, Meryl Streep, Tilda Swinton, Glenn Close to name a few) are in their 50s and 60s.

Whereas last year's awards were dominated by discussion of performances by younger stars like Natalie Portman ("Black Swan"), Anne Hathaway ("Love & Other Drugs"), Emma Stone ("Easy A") and Jennifer Lawrence ("Winter's Bone"), this year there is hardly a 20-something in sight, with the exception of Rooney Mara. And it's especially heartening that these mid-life actresses are being recognized for substantial roles.

Julianna Margulies, 45, is up again for a Best Actress Golden Globe for her complicated, realistic portrayal of a disgraced politician's wife in CBS' hit television drama "The Good Wife". Laura Dern, 44, is up against Margulies for her work in the critically-acclaimed new show "Enlightened," playing a demoted executive trying to cope with her uncontrollable rage through newfound zen. Then there's Tina Fey as the endearingly awkward Liz Lemon on "30 Rock," Amy Poehler's turn as a mid-level bureaucrat in "Parks and Recreation" and Laura Linney's portrayal of a woman faced with a Stage IV cancer diagnosis in "The Big C". These women and the brilliant performances they've been nominated for suggest that TVLand isn't just reconsidering female actresses' supposed "expiration dates" but supporting shows that let them do their extraordinary work.

While not as many of the women nominated for film roles are in their 40s, the performances represented are superb -- see 49-year-old Jodie Foster in the ensemble drama "Carnage," wher she plays a mother confronting the parents of a child who hit her child (emotional "carnage" follows). Viola Davis, 46, and Octavia Spencer, 41, playing African-American maids in the Jim Crow-era South in "The Help" are equally compelling.

This year's Golden Globe nominees are in good company, surrounded by talented, experienced actresses who have begun to push back on Hollywood's traditional "four decades and you're out" attitude. If these women are "over the hill," then maybe we should all be trying to climb that mountain rapidly.

Who do you want to take home a Golden Globe Sunday night?

SLIDESHOW: 11 Fabulous 40-Something Golden Globe Nominees

Actresses In Their 40s To Watch At The Golden Globes