65TH MISS UNIVERSE: AT THE HOMESTRETCH (PART 4)

JAPAN – Sari Nakazawa.  I like her especially with her kawaii (cute) face.  In my eyes, she turned into a semifinalist contender during the Preliminary Competition as she struck a very polished presence in both rounds.  Just like her white gown with flowy shoulder drapes, she’s elegant and sleek.

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KAZAKHSTAN – Darina Kulsitova.  Her headshot is the most striking of them all, as her Eurasian features made for a tantalizing, stunning portrait.  If the Miss Photogenic award is based on the headshot, I would give the award to this lady.   But that stunning headshot aside, she most of the time registers as a typical East Asian, especially with the heavy dark eye makeup she sported in the Preliminary Competition.  Having a thick figure (almost as thick as Siera Bearchell’s) doesn’t reallly help matters, even if she kinda makes up for it with her voluminous ballgown.

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KENYA – Mary Esther Were.  She causes a sensation with her regal, dignified presence.  She covers all the bases and kept her game up during the Presentation Show.  There are at least three African stunners this year–would there be room for at least two of them in the Top 12?

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KOREA – Jenny Kim.  Lookswise, she isn’t much.  However, with her strong English skills, she has a heads up in interview.  Her prospects would depend on how much weight interview holds, and there has been murmurs that it weighs heavily in the selection of the semifinalists.

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KOSOVO – Camila Barraza.  It’s fascinating that she’s a Latina representing a Slavic country–she was born in Argentina to an Argentinean father and a Kosovar mother.  That Latin flair works well for her here, and her modeling experience helps her keep up with the best in the Preliminary Competition.

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MALAYSIA – Kiran Jassal.  Obviously for the Southeast Asian contingent the focus was on the current pageant power triumvirate of Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand, but this lady held herself well with them, and is of the same level as the countrywomen fielded from 2011-2013 (oh, I’m still ruing over Deborah Henry‘s exclusion in 2011).  At least she got attention for her Petronas Towers-inspired national costume.

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MALTA – Martha Fenech.  I’m glad to see this country back to this pageant.  That said, this lady is clearly overshadowed by the stunners out there.  Still, it’s a worthy return and hope for a continued presence from hereon.

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MAURITIUS – Kushboo Ramnawaj.  Based on the pictures I saw of her prior to the Preliminary Competition, I found her to be the plainest and was ready to tag her as the cellar dweller in the pack.  But lo and behold in the Preliminary Competition, she seemed transfigured and she actually looked good.  She also delivered polished stage chops.  If someone like her could be transformed (without having to undergo surgery), any everyday girl can blossom.  This is precisely what Miss Universe is focusing post-Trump.  The story continues during the National Costume show, as it turned out there was a backstage accident that caused her to fall face-first, and even if she was advised to refrain from going onstage as she was encountering dizziness afterwards, she was a trouper and insisted on carrying on, and carry on she did.  For me, she’s the inspirational story that girls all around should pay attention and emulate.

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MEXICO – Kristal Silva.  Of course she wants to downplay her Top Eight finish at Miss Earth in 2013, but her experience does serve her well in this pageant, as she delivered a convincing presentation that she looks poised to be a shoo-in for the semifinals.

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MYANMAR – Htet Htet Htun.  She holds her own well against the Southeast Asian power triumvirate of Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand, but though she couldn’t quite get much edgewise against them, she still makes a great impression.  But the highlight would be her National Costume presentation–imagine carrying a curtain on top of you, then unveiling a painting behind it, and then performing a native/avant garde mime afterwards.  She should win Best National Costume, if you ask me.

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NAMIBIA – Lizelle Esterhuizen.  She’s consistently above average in all aspects, with her statuesque height, slender model’s figure, great communication skills and strong stage presence.  In a less competitive year she’ll have more serious inroads into the semifinals.

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NETHERLANDS – Zoey Ivory.  There are pageant fans and pundits who rave about her and rated her one of the likeliest to make the semifinals.  Though I think she’s an above-average contender and delivered a semifinalist-worthy performance, I don’t quite get the hype–I think I’m just too distracted with her curly hairdo, even if it makes her stand out from the typical blow-dried pack.

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NEW ZEALAND – Tania Dawson.  Okay, she garnered attention for being half-Filipina, but other than that, she doesn’t quite make much impact and is clearly outclassed by the stunning competitors out there.

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NICARAGUA – Marina Jacoby.  She’s great looking though I find a bunch of other faces prettier.  Still, she garnered heavy buzz amongst pageant fans and pundits and she’s one of those with an inside track to make the final cut.  She ticks all the boxes, and on top of that she is one of the Latinas with the strongest communication skills.  I may not be that into her, but I wouldn’t be that surprised if she makes the final cut.

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NIGERIA – Unoaku Anyadike.  She’s almost P.A.T.I.S.-crew level, but her figure is not as buffed as the majority of her peers.

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COMING UP:  NORWAY to SLOVENIA

65TH MISS UNIVERSE: AT THE HOMESTRETCH (PART 3)

GEORGIA – Nuka Karalashvili.  This jet-black brunette didn’t receive much buzz during the proceedings, but from her performance in the Preliminary Competition, one should take a closer look as she performed at the same level as the front-runners out there, showing strong catwalk, a lean, trim figure, and an impeccable silver white evening gown.  She also made a striking impact in her long-sleeved white national costume.

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GERMANY – Johanna Acs.  She’s one of the stronger representatives fielded by this country to this pageant in recent years.  She’s got everything covered–in a less competitive year she would have serious inroads into the semifinals.

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GREAT BRITAIN – Jaime-Lee Faulkner.  She is overall an above-average performer all throughout albeit a bit subdued.  She pales a bit behind her predecessor, Nena France.

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GUAM – Muñeka Taispic.  Her features may appeal to those with exotic tastes.  It was mentioned she was a tomboy, and based on her slightly raw Preliminary Competition performance, those tomboy roots are still there.

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GUATEMALA – Virginia Argueta.  She has an outgoing personality and is articulate and smart.  But her catwalk skills tend to border towards over-the-top like her predecessor, Fabiola Tahiz, although thankfully for this lady’s case, she managed to rein it in enough to avoid garnering the dubious Dunavka Trifunovska award.

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GUYANA – Soyini Fraser.  Another member of the P.A.T.I.S. crew like ANGOLA, BAHAMAS, and CROATIA.

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HAITI – Raquel Pélissier.  She is distinguished by her striking cheekbones and she is on-point in practically all aspects.  There are pageant fans and pundits who believe she has a shot of making the Top 12–I agree she did deliver a semifinalist-worthy performance.

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HONDURAS – Sirey Moran.  See GUATEMALA.

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HUNGARY – Veronika Bodizs.  She garnered buzz as one of the Europeans-most-likely in this pageant.  She generally remained consistently strong all throughout but with only 12 limited slots available, it is a longshot for her to advance.

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ICELAND – Hildur María Leifsdóttir.  She’s generally solid, and her sheer, sequined Preliminary Competition gown has interesting details.  I’m not sure what to say about her flag-themed national costume, though–it looks tacky.  Still it’s nice to see this country back in this pageant after an absence of six years.

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INDIA – Roshmitha Harimurthy.  She performed at a high-level standard, and I love her red sequined long-sleeved gown.  But it seems most of the attention is toward the Southeast Asians and there may not be room for her to have the opportunity to duplicate the feat of Sushmita Sen back in 1994.

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INDONESIA – Kezia Warouw.  You can’t miss her with her statuesque 6′ height, and she radiates with a cosmopolitan Asian vibe.  She, along with Philippines and Thailand, are the most buzzed about Asians in this group, and are considered near mortal locks to the Top 12.  However, in this lady’s case, she almost did a Miriam Quiambao in the Preliminary Competition as reportedly her shoes hit a barely visible nail on the stage causing her to noticeably trip.  No one else had that mishap so one might wonder if she could be penalized for that or get away with it the way Miriam did back in 1999.  I have a feeling it might be the latter in her case.

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ISRAEL – Yam Kaspera Anshel.  I find her features plain and projection skills raw–a rarity in this group of polished ladies.  I find her costume interesting as it seems to be evoking the tale of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, with a serpent prop.

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ITALY – Sophia Sergio.  You cannot miss her statuesque height and lean model frame, and she has great looks and stage catwalk skills to boot.  Though in her up-close interview she mentioned she wanted to be known as more than simply a model, so far it’s her modeling qualities that stand out and we remember her by.

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JAMAICA – Isabel Dalley.  With her statuesque 6’2″ height, gorgeous looks and trim figure, she is a major standout.  And she was flawless during the Preliminary Competition–now one would debate if she was better than Curacao, and would there be room in the Top 12 for both of them.  I’m starting to hate this extremely brutal format.

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COMING UP:  JAPAN to NIGERIA

 

65TH MISS UNIVERSE: AT THE HOMESTRETCH (PART 2)

CANADA – Siera Bearchell.  Pageant netizens were shocked at her form when she toured Boracay, as it was a far cry from the form that garnered her 1st runner-up at Miss Supranational in 2015.  This led to a lot of body-shaming messages, and she garnered headlines on the graceful way she countered all that.  I salute her stance, and of course being of a large size, I understand that we also need to appreciate those who may have “girth”.  It remains questionable if she could win over the judges in her state–the only one who was able to get away with it thus far was Venezuela’s Migbelis Castellanos back in the 63rd edition in Doral, Florida.  I don’t think Canada has as powerful a sash as Venezuela, though, so it’s doubtful she’ll pull off a Migbelis.  At least let us enjoy her for being here.

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Migbelis Castellanos at the 63rd Miss Universe

CAYMAN ISLANDS – Monyque Brooks.  She rocks the short hair, looking like a prettier, more youthful version of Good Morning America anchorwoman Robin Roberts.  She’s a worthwhile contender.

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Robin Roberts (image courtesy of Us Magazine)

CHILE – Catalina Caceres.  Sure most fans’ attention is directed towards other great looking Latinas, but she seems to keep up with the best of them, and when people meet her she wins them over with her outgoing personality.  I’m actually pretty impressed with many Latinas’ interviews, and they can be sleeper choices to make the final cut.

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CHINA – Li Zhenying.  There are pageant fans and pundits buzzing about her, and she does have charisma and stage polish.  But I have a feeling this year it’s the Southeast Asians who are the strongest, but she’s a worthwhile formidable choice.

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COLOMBIA – Andrea Tovar.  Prior to her arrival, many pageant fans and pundits consider her the front-runner for the crown, and she’s set to vindicate the traumatic 1st runner-up finish of her predecessor, Ariadna Gutierrez.  But concerns were raised first when a TV interview surfaced that showed her being brusque when asked about allegations of plastic surgery.  There was a momentary uproar, but that died down when she arrived in Manila as fans hoped she would be better behaved by then.  But then, some candid footage of her making fun of some gifts she received from a sponsor which offended not only Filipino fans but Mexican fans (because she said her misgivings in that accent).  Buzz on her dimmed significantly since then, and her performance in the Preliminary Competition, albeit strong, is not decisive enough to reinstate her front-runner status.  Still, if like Miss Universe 2003 from Dominican Republic, Ameila Vega, the judges were willing to overlook her reported attitude issues, she might still pull it off.

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COSTA RICA – Carolina Rodriguez.  See CHILE, albeit her looks and Preliminary show performance was just a tad below semifinalist-worthy levels.

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CROATIA – Barbara Filipović.  See ANGOLA and BAHAMAS, another addition to the P.A.T.I.S. crew.

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CURACAO – Chanelle de Lau.  She seems poised to equal the semifinalist finish of her predecessor.  She has the looks, charisma, personality, and stage presence to do that, and she’s one of the buzzed about favorites.  With Miss Universe 2007 Riyo Mori in the preliminary panel of judges, I wonder if her moves in the evening gown brought her fond memories–she performed the “Riyo Mori Gucci Flash” in her purple halter-top satin number.

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CZECH REPUBLIC – Andrea Bezděková.  She’s great looking, but her slender figure might make some uncomfortable, and her red evening gown during the Preliminary Competition was a fashion misfire.  Still, her pretty face and strong stage chops made her a worthwhile contender.

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DENMARK – Christina Mikkelsen.  I still have nightmares about the 2012 representative so I am so relieved that this lady has good looks and solid stage polish to be a worthwhile contender.

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DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – Sal Garcia.  I’ve noticed that there are a host of Latinas with extraordinary long necks.  This is the first of those.  I don’t consider her conventionally pretty, but she does have charisma and her lean figure and statuesque frame are enviable (and she has superb stage chops to showcase them).  I love her evening gown with the collar accessory–it makes one forget about that extraordinary long neck of hers (and perhaps that jewelry was indeed suitable for extraordinary long necks like hers).  She can indeed be a semifinals possibility.

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ECUADOR – Connie Jimenez.  Also interesting is that following a long-necked Latina would be a shorter, thicker-but-buffed Latina, which is the case with this lady.  She has all boxes ticked but she has a great human interest story as she’s one of the very few female agricultural engineers in her country.  She’s also one of the strongest communicators, too.

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FINLAND – Shirly Karvinen.  It’s interesting that FInland fielded a half-Chinese lady this time.  Though not much is expected about her semifinalist prospects, she still needs to be saluted for doing the best she could.

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FRANCE – Iris Mittenaere.  She’s got looks and charisma, and possesses an extremely sexy va-va-voom figure.  I could argue she has the best figure of all the 86 delegates this year, and was second only to Venezuela in terms of performance in swimsuit.  She also delivered in her yellow gown, though well, there are several impressive gowns out there, but I have a feeling with that performance she secured her ticket to the Top 12.

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COMING UP:  GEORGIA to JAMAICA