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Saturday, January 28, 2017

65th Miss Universe Review: Malaysia - Panama

The 65th Miss Universe Pageant will be remembered as one that brought back much needed glamour and excitement to the pageant. Apart from the fact that the organizers could not manage to have Miss Universe 2016 in that year and the pageant had to be moved to the following year for the second time, having pageant crazy Philippines as a host was a brilliant move. For the first time in years, the girls were treated like stars. The schedule was hectic and several of the 86 delegates fell ill during their stay in the country, but this is the first time in years that the schedule looked like something befitting of Miss Universe. I don't even want to start thinking how hard it will be for them to find a host that can match the Filipino magic... or just a host at all. This year, they also have a competitive group and the as the new owners WME/IMG are trying to move away from the Trump era, expect some surprises. They have changed the format and instead of a top 15, only 12 beauties will survive the first cut. The owners have made it clear that they want a woman of substance and it almost seems that they have taken a look how Julia Morley reinvented the Miss World Pageant. Early Monday morning, the Philippines own Pia Wurtzbach will crown the 65th Miss Universe. Who will she be? After keeping an eye on what was happening in the Philippines for the last two weeks, here are our thoughts:

******* Crown Contender - might be the 65th Miss Universe 
****** Could be a runner-up  
***** Possible top 5 finalist 
**** Could reach the top 9 
*** Could reach the top 12
** Unlikely to survive the first cut 
* Highly unlikely to survive the first cut 

MALAYSIA: Kiran Jassal ** 

I had high hopes for Kiran when she was crowned the winner of her national pageant. I was sure she would blossom into someone who could fight for the crown. Though I still think she is beautiful and elegant, the problem is that several other strong delegates were crowned, a lot of them outshone her in Manila.

MALTA: Martha Fenech * 

It's really good to see Malta back at Miss Universe. The new organization seems very professional and they put on a fantastic first show. Martha did her best, but the competition is just too strong this year.

MAURITIUS: Kushboo Ramnawaj * 

Kushboo was sent by the new organization and hopefully they will step up and organise a competitive delegate. I am always underwhelmed by the girls from Mauritius.

MEXICO: Kristal Silva *******

Kristal is just simply gorgeous and she came well prepared as she had spent a month in the Philippines when she competed in Miss Earth (and reached the top 8). She did everything right and can be considered as one of the major favorites to win the crown. I will definitely be delighted if she takes it on all on Sunday. She was flawless in gown and swimsuit during the preliminaries and I'm expecting her to do really well.

MYANMAR: Htet Htet Htun ** 

Myanmar is one of the up and coming markets and pageants are very popular there. I feel that they are close to a breakthrough. Htet Htet was well-prepared and gave it her all on stage. I did feel that her performance was slightly over the top and she should have toned it down just a bit.

NAMIBIA: Lizelle Esterhuizen ** 

Lizelle is pretty, but Miss Universe is such a competitive pageant that it will be an uphill battle for her. I actually think she could actually stand a chance at a different pageant, like Miss International or Miss Earth. She was better in swimsuit than gown. I thought her gown was a bit bland and a bit too short.

NETHERLANDS: Zoey Ivory *** 

Zoey is so exotic and I absolutely love her hair. She reminds me of Susie Castillo, who won Miss USA in 2003. She is definitely one to watch and could make it to the top 12. I wasn't too crazy about her evening gown, but I'm expecting that her swimsuit and interview scores will be good.

NEW ZEALAND: Tania Dawson * 

Tania is part Filipino and I wonder if that will get her some extra points. She looks like a lovely girl, but I have to say that she got lost in the crowd in this competitive group.

NICARAGUA: Marina Jacoby ****

OK, so Nicaragua came to COMPETE this year. Marina wants this badly and it showed. She was on fire during the prelims and she's got insane presence on stage. Even though she is not the most gorgeous, in the conventional pageant way, she makes up for it in stage presence and sophistication. I would not be surprised to see her pull a surprise.

NIGERIA: Unoaku Anyadike *

Unoaku represented her country at Miss World 2015 and made much more of an impact at that pageant. This time around she's a bit out of her depth.

NORWAY: Christina Waage * 

Just like Finland, Norway used to be a superpower in pageant. I wonder if they will ever field a contender for the Miss Universe title again. It seems like they have lost their spark and Christina will unfortunately not help them regain it.

PANAMA: Keity Drennan **** 

I was not sure if I would respond to Keity's beauty, but she has proved me wrong. She showed up super well-prepared and have done everything right. She was extremely polished in the preliminaries and even made a rather unattractive gown look good. She should be on her way to the top 12.

Photos courtesy of the Miss Universe Organization

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