Take Shelter and The Artist tipped for glory at Independent Spirit Awards

Both movies will go head-to-head for Best Feature, alongside Beginners, Drive, 50/50 and The Descendants, while filmmakers Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter) and Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist) will compete for Best Director against Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive), Mike Mills (Beginners), and Alexander Payne (The Descendants).

Take Shelter star Michael Shannon will battle it out with Ryan Gosling (Drive) and Woody Harrelson (Rampart) for the Best Male honour, while the female category will see Michelle Williams up against Elizabeth Olsen for their leading roles in My Week With Marilyn and Martha Marcy May Marlene, respectively.

Meanwhile, director J.C. Chandor’s Margin Call has been named the recipient of the Robert Altman Award, which recognises the director, casting director and ensemble cast.

George Clooney’s The Descendants, Drive, Beginners and Martha Marcy May Marlene each received a total of four nods when the shortlist was announced on Tuesday (29Nov11).

To be eligible for an Independent Spirit nod, all films must have been made for less than $20 million (£12.5 million). Movies must have either screened at a major film festival including Sundance, Toronto or Film Independent’s Los Angeles Film Festival or run for at least a week at a commercial theatre.

The winners will be unveiled at a ceremony in Santa Monica, California on 25 February (12) – on the eve of the 2012 Academy Awards.