This is a favorite topic of mine that has come up again with the box office success of Twilight - the new appeal of films generated for a female audience. Here's a London Times article on recent successes.
1) It's good timing, because right now, the number of talented young actresses outnumbers the young leading men significantly.
2) I like the fact that it potentially gives middle-aged actresses something to do. With the success of The Devil Wears Prada and Mamma Mia!, this has been a big boon in Meryl Streep's career. She's gone from being thought of as the serious actress in serious roles to someone infinitely more relatable and likable. And in reverse, she gives these lighthearted films a stamp of merit that makes them harder to discount.
I would hope at some point that the Debra Wingers, Joan Allens, Barbara Hersheys etc. can get in on the action. And hopefully more of Toni Collette.
3) This article implies something that I felt at the time and have repeated ever since - The Devil Wears Prada ultimately is a more significant film from 2006 than about half of the consensus top ten movies. Not because it was a perfect. Because it was a trend-setter. It was the first true female-oriented box office success, and one with only female lead characters, at that. Not a rom-com, but a true woman's picture, in the old timey sense. Plus, it's a pretty good film. I thought long and hard about putting it in my top ten, because I thought this might happen, before going the conventional route. I wish that I had gone for it.
4) Film criticism is a male dominated field. Other than Prada, the films mentioned in the article received general thumbs down from critics. It's going to take adjustments for male critics to really "get" these films. But it shouldnt' be enough to simply push them aside.