03/16/2010 02:00 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

And the Award Goes to...the Ladies With Laugh Lines!

We live in a culture that places a premium on youth, and nowhere has this been more apparent over the years than in image-obsessed Hollywood. As this year's Academy Awards prove, however, there's a new kind of woman out there, and she's taking Tinsel Town by storm. Today's leading ladies are part of a new "in-crowd" that is fabulous, flourishing and over 40. And these women aren't headed for the golden years any time soon -- they're just golden, garnering unprecedented box office sales and critical acclaim.

Indeed, many of today's most talented and popular actresses are reaching new heights at a time in their lives when their careers would previously be fading to black. Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox, Sarah Jessica Parker and Nicole Kidman are just a few members of this growing club.

In fact, as we saw at the Oscars, the spotlight has never shined brighter on these leading ladies. The Best Actress category was initially dominated by them (including Helen Mirren and Meryl Streep) and eventually won by one, with the award going to Sandra Bullock for her work in The Blind Side. Meanwhile, Mo'Nique went home with the award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Precious. Perhaps most significant, however, was Kathryn Bigelow's achievements that night. Her film, The Hurt Locker, was not only named Best Picture, but the 58-year-old phenom also became the first woman to win the directing award.

Not content to sit on the sidelines and watch the entertainment world change without them, these celebs are also smartly leveraging technology to their advantage, with everyday women following suit. The new "golden girls" are dominating the realm of social media, an area once reserved for the twenty-something-and-under set. For the past year, for example, women over 55 comprised Facebook's fastest growing demographic, increasing at a rate of nearly 1,000 percent. Moreover, Demi Moore, Ellen Degeneres and Oprah Winfrey have some of the largest Twitter followings in the world.

These ladies are snagging coveted endorsement deals as well, as savvy marketers increasingly take notice of just how "golden" these women can be. And with females possessing over 80 percent of the buying power in U.S. households, it's a very smart move. Today's age-defying woman demands age-defying marketing, and Madonna, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon, and Julianne Moore -- just to name a few -- are showing the world that glamour and marketing power doesn't stop (or fade) at 39.

But celebrities aren't the only "golden girls." Whether they're entertainers, corporate leaders, or heads of household, women in their 40s, 50s, and 60s are acting, feeling, and even looking younger than their predecessors from previous generations. These women are transcending the boundaries of age and redefining the possibilities of life after 40. They're eager, they're adaptable, and they won't be limited by convention. Most important, they're more powerful than ever.

So with 40-plus females clearly poised to be the big winners in 2010, one thing's for sure: even without a golden statuette, these women are the new "golden girls." We're pretty sure Betty White would approve.