Director Debra Granik's film, about a young woman's search for her drug dealer father, will compete for Best Picture against ballet movie Black Swan, starring Natalie Portman, James Franco's survival drama 127 Hours, Ben Stiller's Greenberg and Annette Bening's The Kids Are All Right.
Winter's Bone star Jennifer Lawrence will battle it out with Bening and Portman for Best Actress, in addition to Greta Gerwig (Greenberg), Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole) and Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine).
Franco and Stiller are among those tipped for Best Actor, alongside Ronald Bronstein (Daddy Longlegs), Aaron Eckhart (Rabbit Hole) and John C. Reilly (Cyrus).
Winter's Bone also earns nods for Best Cinematography, Best Director for Granik, and Best Screenplay for the filmmaker and her co-writer Anne Rosellini, while Lawrence's co-stars John Hawkes and Dale Dickey have been recognised in the supporting actor and actress categories, respectively.
The Kids Are All Right is the second most-nominated film with five, including Best Supporting Actor for Mark Ruffalo.
Organisers announced the nominees on Tuesday (30Nov10).
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 own Los Angeles Film Festival or had a one-week engagement at a commercial theatre.
The awards will be handed out in Santa Monica, California on 26 February (10), a day before the Oscars.