The ripe stuff

Joaquin Phoenix stars in “Her,” part of December’s film bounty. (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Joaquin Phoenix stars in “Her,” part of December’s film bounty. (Warner Bros. Pictures)

I’m kind of obnoxiously big on seasonal eating. Sure, I’ll use one of those microwaveable bags of frozen green beans any time of year, but it’ll be a cold day in hell when you find me eating a tomato in January or a strawberry in November. It’s not because I only eat locally; it’s because out-of-season produce usually sucks. So the months of my life are delineated more by what I’m eating than by anything else. Except for December, which is simply Movie Month.

The year-end glut of movies happens because everyone wants their film to be fresh in the minds of critics as they make up their top 10 lists and submit their awards votes.

I love this time of year; it’s very nearly a can’t-miss season. That said, it can be a little tiring — and, I’m sure, tiresome for the 99.999999 percent of the population who are not paid to go to movies as part of their regular workday. (And I’m not too fond of essentially telling my son, “Mommy will be home to put you to bed again at Christmas. Right now she has to watch Joaquin Phoenix fall in love with his phone.”)

Starting next week, if you want to see a movie and you’ve found a day in December that doesn’t have some sort of holiday shindig, you’ve lined up a sitter and you’ve navigated the mall, you’re still going to have to choose among “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” “Saving Mr. Banks,” “American Hustle,” “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues,” “Inside Llewyn Davis,” “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” “Her,” “The Wolf of Wall Street” and “August: Osage County.” And those are just the movies I’ve screened and decree worth seeing or that I’m really looking forward to. Add in my “mehs” and you’ve got a milelong buffet that won’t expire until February.

I understand the business behind the December marathon, but I wish it weren’t so (I wish there weren’t crappy strawberries in my grocery store right now, but I don’t see that changing anytime soon, either). I wish moviegoers had a chance of seeing the year’s best movies in theaters without having to plan like it’s the invasion of Normandy. I can’t help but feel that life would be better — and maybe business would be, too — if quality movies were in season year-round.

Kristen Page-Kirby covers film for The Washington Post Express.
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Kristen Page-Kirby | December 5, 2013