All those in Hollywood who say there are no great roles for women over the age of 40 need to take a look at the work being done, and still coming from, the fantastic, award-winning actresses on our list. And if it's true that there aren't enough great roles to continue keeping these stars employed, the only solution is to write more, because these leading ladies' talents demand them.
Why she's hot: She seems to take in stride the world's insistence on making her the poster girl for unmarried-and-40-years-old women everywhere, all the while continuing to choose interesting flicks with unexpected co-stars like Adam Sandler and Brooklyn Decker.
Up next: She stars in 'Horrible Bosses,' a comedy co-written by 'Bones' star John Francis Daley and starring a line-up of some of the funniest guys in Hollywood, including Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudekis, as well as Jamie Foxx, Colin Farrell and Kevin Spacey.
Why she's hot: The Oscar nominee splits her time between TV ('ER'), theater (in New York, Los Angeles and Minneapolis) and the big screen, where, this summer, she plays villainess Dr. Amanda Waller in the 'Green Lantern' flick.
Up next: She also co-stars with Paula Patton and Loretta Devine in the May wedding comedy 'Jumping the Broom,' and with Reese Witherspoon and Chris Pine in the McG-directed action-comedy 'This Means War.'
Why she's hot: She was just nominated for a Best Actress Oscar (and won a Golden Globe) for her role in the 2010 drama 'The Kids Are All Right,' arguably her finest work ever.
Up next: She stars with Anthony Hopkins and Andy Garcia in the Garcia-directed and co-written drama 'Hemingway & Fuentes,' about the friendship that inspired Ernest Hemingway's 'The Old Man and the Sea,' as well as the Rob Reiner-directed dramedy 'The Third Act,' with Morgan Freeman.
Why she's hot: The very brief Dec. 2010 release of 'Frankie & Alice' -- in which she plays a multiracial woman with multiple personalities, including one who's racist -- earned the Oscar winner a Golden Globe nomination.
Up next: Her custody battle with ex-boyfriend Gabriel Aubrey led her to drop out of the romantic comedy 'New Year's Eve,' but later this year she stars in the shark thriller 'Dark Tide,' with rumored new fling Oliver Martinez.
Why she's hot: Her surprise Oscar win for 'Blind Side' came the day after her Razzie "win" for 'All About Steve,' and was followed by her very public breakup with cheating husband Jesse James. But she endeared herself to celeb watchers with her graceful handling of the scandal and her return to work ...
Up next: ... which includes 'Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,' a 9/11-themed drama based on Jonathan Safran Foer's novel and co-starring Tom Hanks, John Goodman and James Gandolfini, and 'Gravity,' a sci-fi thriller with George Clooney.
Why she's hot: The Oscar winner can do it all: Historical drama ('Elizabeth: The Golden Age'), comedy ('Hot Fuzz'), animation ('Ponyo'), action-adventure ('Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull' and 'Robin Hood') and romantic, whimsical drama ('The Curious Case of Benjamin Button').
Up next: She stars in the April 8 assassination thriller 'Hanna' with Eric Bana and Saoirse Ronan, and will reprise her role as Galadriel in 'The Hobbit.'
Helena Bonham Carter
Why she's hot: Her activities in 2010 included playing the Red Queen in 'Alice in Wonderland,' Bellatrix Lestrange in 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1,' and earning an Oscar nomination as Queen Elizabeth in 'The King's Speech.'
Up next: Bellatrix returns for the July 15 final Potter movie series installment, 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.'
Why she's hot: She traded Oscar nods for back-to-back Emmy wins for her role as ruthless attorney Patty Hewes on FX's 'Damages,' but she returns to the big screen -- or at least, her voice does -- in the April 29 animated sequel 'Hoodwinked Too! Hood Vs. Evil.'
Up next: 'Damages' returns for a fourth season this summer (on DirecTV), and on the big screen, Close co-wrote, produced and stars in 'Albert Nobbs,' about a 19th century Englishwoman who pretends to be a man so she can support herself as a butler
Why she's hot: The Oscar winner will be stirring buzz with the upcoming release of 'What's Wrong With Virginia,' the Dustin Lance Black-penned and directed drama about a mentally unstable woman whose affair with a local married Mormon sheriff (Ed Harris) could ruin his family and political aspirations.
Up next: She co-stars with Harris again in the megachurch satire 'Salvation Boulevard' (along with Pierce Brosnan, Greg Kinnear and Marisa Tomei) and is rumored to be co-starring with husband Paul Bettany in an adaptation of Philip Roth's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel 'American Pastoral.'
Why she's hot: She's forged a post-'Friends' TV comeback -- and earned a Golden Globe nomination -- with the hit ABC comedy 'Cougar Town,' and now she's headed back to the big screen ...
Up next: ... with the April 15 horror flick sequel 'Scream 4,' which reunited Cox with husband David Arquette and Neve Campbell, plus newbie 'Scream'-sters Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere, Adam Brody, Rory Culkin, Alison Brie, Anthony Anderson, Kristen Bell, Anna Paquin, Lucy Hale and Shenae Grimes.
Why she's hot: The Tony winner has been stealing scenes (and racking up an Oscar nomination) in flicks like 'Doubt' with Meryl Streep, as well as 'Eat, Love, Pray,' 'State of Play' and 'It's Kind of a Funny Story.'
Up next: She co-stars with Clive Owen in the David Schwimmer-directed April 1 thriller 'Trust,' the southern drama 'The Help' in August and with the aforementioned Sandra Bullock in next year's 'Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.'
Why she's hot: The Oscar winner, currently starring in 'Jane Eyre,' may be in her seventies, but she's showing no signs of slowing down, with an upcoming slate that includes ...
Up next: the Judd Apatow-penned thriller 'Stainless Steel,' an adaptation of the novel 'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel' with Maggie Smith and Tom Wilkinson, 'My Week With Marilyn' with Michelle Williams, Clint Eastwood's 'J. Edgar,' 'Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides' and a return as M in the 23rd James Bond flick.
Why she's hot: She already rules the small screen, made a splash on the big screen in front of the camera in 'Date Night' and wrote what remains one of the best teen chick flicks ever (and Lindsay Lohan's finest performance) with 'Mean Girls.'
Up next: The comedy 'Mommy & Me,' in which she'll co-star with Meryl Streep, and the comedy 'Mail-Order Groom,' which she's co-producing with Steve Carell.
Why she's hot: The Oscar winner has directed her first flick in more than a decade with the controversial, but rave review-drawing May dramedy 'The Beaver,' in which Foster co-stars with old pal and scandal-magnet Mel Gibson.
Up next: She co-stars with Kate Winslet in the Roman Polanski-directed movie adaptation of the play 'Carnage,' with Matt Damon and Sharlto Copley in the sci-fi thriller 'Elysum,' and she's writing and directing an as-yet-untitled sci-fi thriller for 2014.
Why she's hot: The Oscar nominee slides effortlessly between comedy, like her hilarious recurring stint on '30 Rock,' and co-starring in the Adam Sandler/Chris Rock/Kevin James comedy 'Grown Ups,' to co-starring in Oliver Stone's upcoming crime drama 'Savages.'
Up next: She re-teams with Kevin James in the James-penned action/comedy 'Here Comes the Boom' and provides the voice of Kitty Softpaws in Antonio Banderas' 'Shrek' animated movie spin-off 'Puss in Boots,' which hits theaters in November.
Why she's hot: The Oscar winner is starring in Lawrence Kasdan's upcoming drama 'Darling Companion,' about a woman who loves her dog more than she loves her husband ... and then the husband (Kevin Kline) loses the pooch.
Up next: And in another upcoming relationship drama, Keaton is scheduled to star opposite Ed Harris in 'The Look of Love,' in which she'll play a widow who falls for a man who looks just like her deceased spouse.
Why she's hot: The Oscar winner, who received another nod earlier this year for 'Rabbit Hole' and also starred in the Adam Sandler/Jennifer Aniston comedy 'Just Go With It,' pairs with Nicolas Cage for the first time in the crime thriller 'Trespass,' directed by Joel Schumacher.
Up next: Kidman also stars with Rachel Weisz in the drama 'The Danish Girl,' a fact-based account of the first person to have a sex-change operation.
Why she's hot: The Oscar nominee is likely to snag an Emmy nod for 'Cinema Verite,' the April HBO movie -- produced by James Gandolfini -- about the groundbreaking documentary 'An American Family.' The PBS series, often credited with being the first example of reality TV, followed the sometimes painful ups and downs of the real-life Loud family.
Up next: She plays Martha Kent to Kevin Costner's Jonathan Kent in Zack Snyder's 2012 'Superman: Man of Steel' reboot.
Why she's hot: The Oscar nominee already starred in the Kevin James/Vince Vaughn dramedy 'The Dilemma' earlier this year, and she'll return to her musical roots with her next project, the comedy 'Joyful Noise,' about warring members of a competitive choir, co-starring Dolly Parton and Kris Kristofferson.
Up next: She also returns as Ellie in the sequel 'Ice Age: Continental Drift,' and is producing and starring in 'Welfare Queen,' a fact-based comedy about the woman who helped usher in welfare reform when she scammed several hundreds of thousands of dollars in welfare payments.
Why she's hot: She stars in the April dramedy 'Sympathy for Delicious,' the much-awaited directorial debut of her 'You Can Count on Me' co-star Mark Ruffalo. The movie, which also stars Ruffalo, Orlando Bloom and Juliette Lewis, tells the story of a recently-paralyzed DJ who discovers he has the power to heal others, but not himself.
Up next: She's starring in a second season of her Showtime dramedy 'The Big C,' and she stars in the drama 'Morning' with Jeanne Tripplehorn and Leland Orser.
Why she's hot: The ecstatic Oscar winner for 'The Fighter' is on the big screen next in Kevin Smith's buzz-stirring thriller 'Red State.'
Up next: She also stars with Robert Duvall in the upcoming golf drama 'Seven Days in Utopia' and the comedy 'Predisposed' with Jesse Eisenberg and Tracy Morgan.
Why she's hot: The breakout 'Glee' star and Golden Globe and Emmy winner just returned to her big-screen comedy roots in the Simon Pegg/Nick Frost flick 'Paul.'
Up next: She does voice work in the April animated comedy 'Rio,' and, in September, she's releasing her memoirs, which will include revelations about the drinking problems she's previously touched on in interviews.
Why she's hot: She's been MIA from the big screen for a few years, but is back with a full line-up, including the crime thriller 'This Must Be the Place' with Sean Penn.
Up next: She's also in the July sequel 'Transformers: Dark of the Moon'; another sequel, 'Madagascar 3'; and will star in the movie adaptation of Elizabeth Strout's novel 'Olive Kitteridge.'
Why she's hot: She follows up starring in the action/comedy 'Red' by starring opposite Russell Brand in the April 8 'Arthur' remake.
Up next: The Oscar winner stars in the British drama 'The Door,' about the relationship between a writer and her housekeeper, and an untitled drama about a woman whose daughter is killed while working as a journalist in the Gaza Strip.
Why she's hot: She followed up her 'Precious' Oscar win by hosting her own BET talk show, which she also produces.
Up next: She's rumored to be starring in 'The Nye Incidents,' an adaptation of the graphic novel about a medical examiner who tracks down the killer of alien abductees.
Why she's hot: The Oscar nod for 'The Kids Are Alright' went to her co-star, Annette Bening, but she earned her fair share of great reviews for the drama. And she's following it up with another family tale, the July dramedy 'Crazy, Stupid, Love,' with Kevin Bacon, Steve Carell, Marisa Tomei, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone and Josh Groban.
Up next: She'll also co-star with Robert De Niro and Paul Dano in 'Another Bullsh*t Night in Suck City,' about a twentysomething Boston man who works in homeless shelters, where he often meets up with his troubled father.
Sarah Jessica Parker
Why she's hot: 'Sex and the City 2' was a flop, but she's bouncing back with the star-studded December romantic comedy 'New Year's Eve,' with Robert De Niro, Katherine Heigl and Sienna Miller.
Up next: She's also starring in the comedy flick adaptation of Allison Pearson's novel 'I Don't Know How She Does It,' about a woman who is the sole breadwinner for her husband and two kids. Seth Myers, Christina Hendricks, Greg Kinnear and Pierce Brosnan co-star.
Why she's hot: After a few years of down time from the big screen, she'll return with 'Welcome to People,' an Alex Kurtzman-directed drama -- co-starring Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks, Jon Favreau and Olivia Wilde -- about a man who connects with the sister he's never met after the father dies.
Up next: She's also among the A-list cast of 'New Year's Eve,' and will star with Johnny Depp in Tim Burton's 'Dark Shadows' movie.
Why she's hot: The 'Eat, Pray, Love' star has at least a dozen movie projects in various stages of production and development.
Up next: She co-stars with Tom Hanks in the July dramedy 'Larry Crowne,' about a middle-aged man who has to reinvent himself by going back to school after losing his job. She'll also star in a Ryan Murphy romantic comedy about a woman who loses her job and becomes a stay-at-home mom, and will star in and produce an adaptation of the novel 'The Friday Night Knitting Club.'
Why she's hot: She stars in the Beastie Boys' Sundance short 'Fight for Your Right Revisited' and co-owns Spin, a hot NYC ping pong club.
Up next: She stars in the comedy 'Jeff Who Lives at Home' -- about a stoner who realizes there's more to life than living with his mother when he runs an errand for her -- with Jason Segel, Judy Greer and Ed Helms, and the thriller 'Arbitrage,' with Richard Gere and actor/rapper Drake.
Why she's hot: She stars with Michael C. Hall, Rainn Wilson, Judy Greer and Taraji P. Henson in the dysfunctional family comedy 'Peep World.'
Up next: She says it's "not pretty" when she flashes full frontal nudity in 'Take This Waltz,' actress-writer-director Sarah Polley's bittersweet dramedy about a woman trying to choose between two loves. The movie also stars Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen.
Why she's hot: When isn't she? Her next, likely Oscar-nominee project is 'The Iron Lady,' in which she portrays Margaret Thatcher.
Up next: She'll star in the comedy 'Mommy & Me' with Tina Fey and is attached to star with Oprah Winfrey and Sandra Bullock in 'Sex and the City' scribe Michael Patrick King's comedy about the inner-workings of a home shopping network.
Why she's hot: The 'Michael Clayton' Oscar winner stars in the September drama 'We Need to Talk About Kevin,' about a mom who has to deal with the fallout and guilt of her teenage son's murder rampage at school.
Up next: She's also rumored to be co-starring with Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray and Frances McDormand in the Wes Anderson-directed drama 'Moonrise Kingdom.'
Why she's hot: The two-time Oscar winner is in sequel mode, starring in 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2' and 'Men in Black III.'
Up next: She provides voice work, along with Reese Witherspoon and Kevin McKidd, in the animated princess tale 'Brave,' and is co-writing the screenplay for a 'My Fair Lady' remake that is rumored to star Carey Mulligan.
Why she's hot: She's hangin' on the big screen with Matthew McConaughey in the new drama 'The Lincoln Lawyer,' and the Oscar winner follows that with a role in the megachurch spoof 'Salvation Boulevard' later this year.
Up next: She also co-stars with Julianne Moore in the dramedy 'Crazy, Stupid, Love,' and co-stars with George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Paul Giamatti, Evan Rachel Wood and Philip Seymour Hoffman in the October political campaign drama 'The Ides of March.'
Why she's hot: She played CIA operative Valerie Plame in 'Fair Game,' and will follow it up with another fact-based drama, 'The Impossible,' in which she and co-star Ewan McGregor play a couple dealing with the 2004 Thailand tsunami.
Up next: She also stars in the thriller 'Dream House' with Rachel Weisz; in 'J. Edgar' with Leonardo DiCaprio; and 'Blonde,' the Marilyn Monroe drama adapted from Joyce Carol Oates' novel about the Hollywood legend.
Why she's hot: She's already co-starred with some of the biggest comedy buzzmakers this year in 'Cedar Rapids' and 'Paul.'
Up next: More comedy, in Amy Heckerling's 'Vamps,' with Justin Kirk, Alicia Silverstone, Krysten Ritter, Wallace Shawn and Richard Lewis; the Bruce Willis thriller 'The Cold Light of Day'; the crime thriller 'Rampart' with Robin Wright; and, of course, the long, long, long-awaited Christmas 2012 sequel 'Ghostbusters III.'
Why she's hot: The Oscar winner's packed upcoming release schedule includes the fact-based August drama 'The Whistleblower,' about a Nebraska female cop who worked as a peacekeeper in post-war Bosnia and accused the U.N. of helping to cover up a sex scandal.
Up next: She also stars in the British romantic drama 'The Deep Blue Sea,' the September thriller 'Dream House' with real-life boyfriend Daniel Craig and Naomi Watts, in Terrence Malick's still-untitled romantic drama with Ben Affleck, Javier Bardem and Rachel McAdams and with Nicole Kidman in Lasse Hallstrom's 'The Danish Girl.'
Why she's hot: The Oscar winner played Nicole Kidman's mom in the powerful drama 'Rabbit Hole' and is among the all-star cast of the October comedy 'The Big Year,' which also includes her 'Parenthood' co-star Steve Martin, Owen Wilson, Jack Black, Anjelica Huston, Joel McHale, Jim Parsons, Rashida Jones, Kevin Pollak, Tim Blake Nelson and Brian Dennehy.
Up next: She also co-stars with Diane Keaton, Kevin Kline and Sam Shepard in the Lawrence Kasdan-written and directed drama 'Darling Companion,' and with Jennifer Garner and Ron Livingston in the fantasy 'The Odd Life of Timothy Green.'
Why she's hot: She stars in the Robert Redford-directed 'The Conspirator' -- out on April 15 -- as Mary Surratt, the only woman charged in the conspiracy trial for the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.
Up next: The former soap star and Golden Globe nominee is adding a whole list of new flicks to her resume, including the James Ellroy crime thriller 'Rampart' with Steve Buscemi and Sigourney Weaver; 'Moneyball,' the long-awaited adaptation of 'Blind Side' author Michael Lewis' baseball book, with Brad Pitt; and the adaptation of Stieg Larsson's 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.'