Well, this is pretty neat. I hadn't realized that the Academy has launched a web series of sorts, taking on a range of film-related subjects past and present -- and sometimes focusing on individual artists. The initiative is titled Academy Originals; previous episodes have centered on Patton Oswalt, Dustin Lee Black and "Jurassic Park," among others. This week's subject: writer-director Ava DuVernay.

It's an appropriate week to shine a spotlight on DuVernay, given that her new project "Selma" is really picking up steam. As Kris noted last week, the Martin Luther King biopic will be released on Christmas Day, with the newly announced presence of producer Oprah Winfrey in a supporting role further raising its profile.

Perhaps DuVernay will end up receiving more Academy attention when the season comes round; if so, she'd be the first female African-American filmmaker ever to be nominated. DuVernay was invited to join the Academy last year by both the directors' and writers' branches -- not sure which invitation she accepted, but she's presumably a member now.

Anyway, let's not get ahead of ourselves. The Academy Originals video does a good job of capturing her passion and intelligence; it's nice seeing AMPAS using this forum to highlight less widely exposed talents. However "Selma" turns out, DuVernay really has the goods -- as a couple of you noted last week, it's a crying shame that her excellent debut "Middle of Nowhere" isn't available in any form for home viewing. Someone really ought to address that.