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Winter's Bone star Jennifer Lawrence is in the running for best actress

Dark drama Winter's Bone leads the field at the 2011 Spirit awards, having been nominated for seven prizes at the independent film showcase.

Lead actress Jennifer Lawrence and director Debra Granik will both be up for awards at the event, held in Los Angeles the day before the Oscars.

Artificial insemination comedy The Kids are All Right has five nominations.

Presented annually by cinema group Film Independent, the awards recognise films that cost less than $20m to make.

Released in the UK in September, Winter's Bone tells of a young woman whose attempts to locate her missing father raise the hackles of her rural community.

The film is emerging as a serious Oscar contender, having been named best feature film at New York's Gotham Awards earlier this week.

Joining Winter's Bone and The Kids are All Right in the best feature film category are Danny Boyle's 127 Hours and Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan.

The King's Speech starring Colin Firth is nominated for the foreign film award

Both Boyle and Aronofsky are up for best director, with 127 Hours star James Franco – confirmed this week as an Oscars co-host – nominated for the best actor award.

Elsewhere, Exit Through the Gift Shop – a film about elusive UK graffiti artist Banksy – gets a nod for best documentary.

British drama The King's Speech is in the foreign film category alongside Thai release Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, winner of the Palme d'Or at this year's Cannes film festival.

The 2011 Spirit awards will be held on 26 February in the Los Angeles area of Santa Monica.

This year saw harrowing drama Precious take five prizes, including best feature.