Although The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey smashed box office records, the journey was too plodding and long for some Hollywood critics, who cringed at New Zealand's obsession with Middle-earth.

US film blogger Vince Mancini of FilmDrunk wrote we had become "indistinguishable from parody"; those flying into New Zealand had "Welcome to Middle-earth" stamped in their passport, after being forced to watch Air New Zealand's Hobbit-themed safety video on a specially decorated plane.

A gargantuan Gollum greeted travellers at Wellington Airport, and even if you dodged the Hobbit-themed postage stamps, NZ Post marked your envelope with "Middle-earth New Zealand".

As Mancini sighed: "Might as well change the prime minister's name to Bilbo Baggins, to commemorate New Zealand's status as the world's most far-flung Lord of the Rings gift shop."

Fans were undeterred: Thousands flocked to Wellington for the premiere of Sir Peter Jackson's latest offering, but once the red carpet was rolled up, many let rip at how slowly JRR Tolkien's rather slender book plays out over more than two hours and 40 minutes - with two films still to come.

But the film set a record as the best-ever December opening in US box office history, grossing $US84.8 million during its first three days, and a New Zealand record for the biggest non-holiday Wednesday opening.

Whether Sir Peter's new technique of shooting film at 48 frames-per-second will win him an Oscar is another thing.

But another Kiwi was always the home favourite to nab one earlier in the year.

Wellington's Bret McKenzie, best known as one half of Flight of the Conchords, picked up a golden statue in February for Best Original Song for Man or Muppet, one of several songs he penned as The Muppets film's musical supervisor.

ARIA award winner Kimbra scored two Grammy nods for her 2011 collaboration on Aussie artist Gotye's multi-platinum hit Somebody That I Used to Know.

The pair are finalists for Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo at February's awards, while McKenzie, too, is a finalist - his Oscar-winning song is up for Best Song Written For Visual Media.

Local small screen stars were much dimmer this year - with The GC and The Ridges offering a bizarre snapshot of Kiwi culture on TV3.

The GC followed young Maori apparently working on Australia's Gold Coast, despite spending most of the show styling their hair and chasing girls ("aunties").

Being likened to US reality show Jersey Shore was no doubt a compliment, but the jury remains out over whether $420,000 in taxpayer funding to make eight episodes was money well spent.

The Ridges also put style before substance, following crafty mum Sally and model/law student daughter Jaime as they cackled their way around Auckland's affluent suburbs.

Meanwhile, Paul Henry's move to an Australian breakfast show was a cause for celebration for many Kiwis - until he started making headlines.

Sharing his views on the Australian government's plan to pay households up to $300 a week to accommodate asylum seekers, Mr Henry suggested they could be put in linen cupboards - but homeowners would "want to get the linen out" first.

"Otherwise (inaudible) 'oh, these sheets are dirty. Ergh'," Henry said.

He continued: "Don't ask. These towels... (sniffs) oh no, don't ask. We've got someone living in the linen cupboard kids, just don't go in there."

The Channel Ten breakfast show lasted less than nine months before it was axed last month.

Henry is expected to return home, where his on-air exploits will, no doubt, have audiences cringing again in 2013.

The West Australian

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