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Usually the visual effects category at the Oscars is an interesting chance for blockbusters to duke it out, deciding whether the shiny robots of Transformers are more impressive than the dueling bears of The Golden Compass (they weren't) or the hobbits and wizards and trolls of Fellowship of the Ring were better than the copious explosions in Pearl Harbor (they were, thank God).

But this year, not just at the Oscars but in every visual effects award possible, there's not really a contest. Either you go for the groundbreaking, breathtaking, game-changing work in Avatar, or you're just being ornery. And so it went with the Visual Effects Society Awards on Saturday, where THR reports that Avatar walked away with six awards, including the top honor.

The only other film that came close was Up, which won three statues for outstanding animation, outstanding animated character (Carl, of course) and effects animation in an animated movie (the balloons). I love the specificity of some of the prizes, like the single effect award going to Neytiri drinking from a leaf, or outstanding environment going to Avatar's bioluminescent forest. The only other films to sneak in there were District 9 (for compositing) and Sherlock Holmes (in supporting visual effects, a category in which Avatar was not nominated). Not that any of this will change what happens on Oscar night-- if the Avatar visual effects team doesn't ride to the stage on a six-legged horse, something has gone horribly wrong.

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