I am running Mint 13, both 32- and 64-bit versions. In general I prefer to use the Synaptic Package Manager as it handles the dependancies. One view shows you all the upgradeable packages. Is there a way to bulk select them all and then deselect the few you do wish to upgrade? Selecting them all one-by-one is a major pain.
In the left panel, select the “Status” filter, and choose the “Installed (upgradable)” list. You can select all packages in a view by clicking the first package, scrolling to the last package and shift-clicking it. Or with the keyboard, press Home then Shift+End. Then right-click or bring up the “Package” menu and select “Unmark” or “Mark for Upgrade”. You can also keep the Ctrl key down to move around without changing the selection and click or press space to select the package under the cursor.