Sorry I haven't responded until now. I forgot to subscribe to the topic. I'll do that right now.
Okay, since you can still use your system, and you want to install the proprietary drivers, you can download the drivers directly from nVidia to a USB drive or CD and install them manually. Just mount the drive from the command line using something like:
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sudo mount /dev/sdX# /media
Replace sdX# with the location of the partition on our USB drive. It will often be /dev/sdb1 or /dev/sdc1.
Then just proceed with the installation following nVidia's instructions.
Something else to look for when you boot into recovery mode is try the "startx" command and see what errors it gives you. That might provide some useful information.
If you remember what updates you installed, you should be able to roll them back with dpkg or something else.
If you want to reinstall, I would recommend installing updates in small batches that way you can narrow down the problem updates. Don't use apt-get or aptitude or synaptic to update your system until you get everything working. Use mintupdate instead. Also, hold off on the level 3 or higher updates until you make sure everything works. then start installing the other updates. Start with the level 3, then move on to 4 and 5 if so desired. The level 4 and 5 updates can and do break things. When you have everything up to date, or have found the problem update, then you can install your graphics drivers. Sometimes other updates will break them as you found out.