We can bicker all day and all night about Avatar as a film and its story and its pacing and its characters, but anyone who thinks that the film is not a technical breakthrough on just about every level is fool who is just trying to look cool in front of his friends. This thing is going to sweep just about every technical award it's nominated for at every awards ceremony and rightfully so. You have to give credit where credit is due.
No surprise that Avatar won six awards at the Visual Effects Society Awards, including Outstanding VFX in a VFX-Driven Motion Picture, which seems to be the VES equivalent of Best Picture at the Oscars. Other oddly specific awards Avatar took home include Best Single Visual Effect of the Year, Best Animated Characters in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture, Matte Paintings in a Feature Motion Picture, Models and Miniatures in a Feature Motion Picture and Created Environment in a Feature Motion Picture.
You gotta' love these niche awards. The people who otherwise wouldn't get any attention get their chance to be in the spotlight. Look at some of these categories: Visual Effects in a Commercial, Visual Effects in a Broadcast Series, Visual Effects in a Special Venue Project, Visual Effects in a Video Game Trailer (!), Real Time Visuals in a Video Game and so on. I bet all of the winners are very pale and have serious Mountain Dew and Red Bull addictions.
Variety has all of the winners in nice little list, but the other big winners of the night were Up, which swept the animation categories and Sherlock Holmes, which took Best Supporting Visual Effects in a Feature Motion Picture (what a crazy category name!). District 9 managed to squeeze out one award against the Avatar juggernaut, taking home Best Compositing in a Feature Motion Picture.