Miss Universe 2013 WATCHLIST: The hits-and-misses, surprises and disappointments

The most beautiful ladies in the planet are ready to battle it out for that Diamond Nexus crown and the life-changing title of Miss Universe.

More than a week from now, reigning queen Olivia Culpo of the USA will pass on the crown in glittering ceremonies at the Crocus City Hall, Moscow, Russia. And what a better way to keep the momentum high is to gauge the chances of some of the 89 candidates in the competition.

Let me present to you THE WATCH LIST, which is obviously a list of the girls I am keeping an eye out as the pageant progresses. The girls are placed under appropriate categories for easier reading.

Let’s get it on!

BRAZIL Jakelyne owns one of the best bodies in the competition. She was one of the standouts during the Yamamay fashion show with her pasarela complementing her shapely body. Her overall packaging reminds me of Zuleyka Rivera, but more refined. Though not the most stunning facially, I think her universal beauty is enough to bring her closer to the crown. And if plans to host the Miss Universe pageant in Brazil next year push through, that will seal the deal for this 20-year-old lady.

POLAND Her beauty fits the emerging trend in Miss Universe winners: sweet, simple but marketable. Paulina exudes so much finesse that it”s nearly impossible to pin-point a flaw in her beauty. She is touted as “the girl to beat” early on in the competition, and the odds seem to be on her favor. She’s arguably the most in-demand candidate. She was chosen for the Mercedes-Benz TV ad with five other girls, and was the sole candidate to wear four dresses during the Tony Ward fashion show. If those are any indication, then we might be looking at the new Miss Universe.

PUERTO RICO The Angelina Jolie dead-ringer is everywhere! Undoubtedly, she is the most photographed candidate. It didn’t come as a surprise because she really is beautiful. She’s already polished from the moment she won in her national pageant. Though at times she may appear overdone (her performance during the fashion show was bit too much for my taste), it can’t be denied that she is a force to reckon with in the competition. After all, Monic is one of the most prepared delegates in the competition, ready to slay her competitors.

SPAIN If there’s one girl who I can say nailed the Tony Ward fashion show, it was Patricia. Her jawline was a killer, her walk was very appropriate. She exudes so much sophistication, which is very evident in her official evening gown portrait. She also, for me, has the best head shot among the ladies. Though at times she is giving me some Deborah Henry vibe (they were both Miss World semifinalists), I’m confident Patricia will have a different fate in Miss Universe.

VENEZUELA I have to admit that I wasn’t a big fan of Gabriela when she was crowned last year. I seriously thought she was a downgrade, but I never doubted that she will be transformed into one fine candidate. When she set foot in Moscow, I was just blown away by her class and stature. And her performance in the fashion show was a testament that Gabriela is a force majeure in the competition. One thing I can’t deny is that Gabriela is very elegant. Her official evening gown portrait just perfectly captures that.

BOLIVIA Among the girls in the safe zone, Alexia is most likely the first person to drop to critical level. She is undoubtedly gorgeous, but her styling is killing her chances. She needs to ditch that ill-fitting gown in her EG portrait. At the moment, she is okay, but in a competition like Miss Universe, okay is not enough.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC That unfortunate accident during the Yamamay fashion show seems to be working on Yaritza’s favor as she is now sharing the spotlight with the front-runners. It’s not hard for her to get noticed though because of her exotic looks. She reminds me of Bodine Koehler, only prettier and sassier. “It’s not about what you have or where you are, it’s about what you believe you can become,” she said. From the looks of it, she is hungry for the crown.

ISRAEL Titi made history as the first black Miss Israel and it sure is giving her an advantage. She met the US president and was already features in CNN prior to Miss Universe. I can’t say she is the best black delegate in the competition, but her sophistication and unassuming beauty is undeniable. She reminds me so much of the young Agbani Darego. But I have to say, I’m bothered by her big boobies.

RUSSIA Elmira was a flop in Miss World, so why is she in the safe zone? Being the host delegate surely has its perks. But I have to say she seems more relaxed now. While I still believe her face is mediocre, this girl for sure won’t be ignored.

SWITZERLAND An early favorite prior to arrivals, Dominique’s edge over the other candidates is her extra spunk, which is transmitted through her hair. She reminds me of Pink, and to rephrase the singer’s famous lyrics: she will, she will rock you!

CROATIA She wasn’t named the most beautiful face in her country for nothing. While she might be behind her predecessor in terms of facial beauty, Melita oozes with so much sex appeal which translates very well when she moves on stage. I expected this girl to bring that flare in Moscow, but at the moment, she’s just lackluster. Her beauty drowns when she’s beside the others. Her only saving grace for now is her excellent official photos. The camera loves her! By the way, she looks good with her hair in a bun.

INDONESIA When Whulandary was crowned, hopes were high she will bring Indonesia back to the Miss Universe semifinals. Her experience as a professional model for the past six years is already an advantage. Obviously, her professional photos are good. Her presentation skills are also above-average. However, Whulan fails in the beauty and styling department. She wasn’t as beautiful, glowing and stunning as she was expected to be. Take for instance the welcome dinner. She was aptly dressed, but her inappropriate make-up ruined the overall look. She also looks dry at times, and her face turns freaky when she smiles. Simply put, she wasn’t just a disappointment; she’s not the best in Asia.

ITALY Luna is among my early favorites during pre-arrivals simply because I find her beauty striking and commercial. She photographs well, and her official photos are testaments to that. However, she comes off as subdued, and I’m thinking this might have affected her chances in Miss International and Miss Earth in previous years. Luna needs to bring more energy on stage. She’s no Top Model of the World winner for nothing. Her winsome smile will help her show her endearing personality.

UKRAINE Her beauty comes off as villainy for me – but in a good way. Those arched eyebrows, tantalizing eyes and pouty lips may appear strong for some, but that’s what I like most about Olga. But like most European delegates in the past, Olga appears lackluster. Her fashion show walk was underwhelming. She must up the energy like Olesia Stefanko in 2011 during the preliminaries. That gorgeous face and shapely body shouldn’t be wasted.

VIETNAM She’s a diamond in the rough and has so much potential come pre-arrivals. But Truong Thi May arrived in Moscow unpolished. Her lack of ample time to prepare is very evident and I’m afraid she might become forgettable in the preliminaries. One thing I really like about her is when she smiles. She also reminds me of Parul Shah (a Bb Pilipinas semifinalist).

COSTA RICA Fabiana can be considered a pageant veteran, so it’s a little disappointing that she isn’t gaining much attention. It can’t be denied that she still got that curvaceous body that made her win Best in Swimsuit in Miss Earth 2012. She is also a performer on stage so I expect her to bring her A-game during the prelims. She needs to be careful with her styling, as sometimes heavy make-up makes her look older.

ECUADOR I’m not a fan of Conztanza’s beauty, but I’d be a hypocrite if I say I wasn’t impressed her transformation. I initially didn’t like her because I though she looks too heavy and matured. But looking at her body now, I can say she’s improved a lot! Also her styling is always on point. Her training in Venezuela really worked to her advantage. Weak sash could be her waterloo, but her presentation skills shouldn’t be ignored. This girl shouldn’t be taken lightly.

GREAT BRITAIN My sentimental favorite from the very beginning is slowly, but surely, proving why she deserves to be in the semis. With an angelic face, mesmerizing stares and a winsome smile, who would not fall for this blonde doll? I have been following her on Instagram, and I must say her body has improved. She seems more polished now compared to her Miss Asia Pacific World stint. Though not the tallest, she still manages to standout. She came well-prepared for battle of beauties and is the best from her country from recent memory. It would be a crime to ignore this beauty!

INDIA Not a lot believed that Manasi can be a threat in this year’s pageant. Plain Jane, naysayers claim, but she didn’t take matters sitting down. She was a revelation come arrivals and obviously miles better than her predecessor. Her face, though not as stunning as the others, is just beautiful. Even her body has improved a lot! Remember the controversial thread where she was called fat? Here’s a slap on your face, hater! With India ready to reclaim its lost pageant glory, she shouldn’t be counted out just yet.

TURKEY With a sweet face and captivating radiant smile, it is a surprise that Berrin isn’t given much attention. Weak sash could be the culprit, but if her predecessor surprised everyone by making the first cut last year, why not the facially better Berrin? At the moment is the darkhorse of the competition. She has all the goods and could make the cut. That is if she gives a more-than-memorable performance come finale.

AUSTRALIA Olivia exudes so much positivity in almost all the photos and videos that had been posted. Her official photos were very impressive. However, when in motion she’s not all that. Her body seems a bit heavy, too. In my opinion, she isn’t at par with her predecessors when it comes to preparations. But that adorable personality could be her ticket the semifinals.

COLOMBIA Lucia for me has one of the prettiest faces in the competition. Her official photos are a hit for me, but most of the time, she is bordering boring. She reminds me of Shamcey Supsup. But like Shamcey’s much talked-about tsunami walk, Lucia needs to find that defining moment for her to move further in the competition. She needs to add a more fire to her performance to keep up with the rest.

FRANCE Admit it, Hinarani didn’t live up to pre-arrival expectations. Her face was just okay, but when properly styled she transforms into Beyonce. She was neither the best nor the worst during the Tony Ward fashion show, but Hinarani needs to bring back that fire and spunk that fans saw in her. At the moment, she is being overshadowed by the likes of Poland and Venezuela. Can Hinarani continue France’s placement streak? Yes. But can France finally break into the Top 5 with her? At the moment, the chances are slim.

PHILIPPINES She has attracted haters because of her strong fan base, but if you have haters, it only means you are a threat. Haters gonna hate, but Ariella is undeniably well-trained. Being chosen in the Tony Ward fashion ans the Mercedes-Benz TV ad mean the organization is keeping an eye on this girl. However, I can’t deny that Ariella looks haggard at times and her styling isn’t the best. Her smile may sometimes be a bit disturbing, too. Also, her manner of speaking may be off and would appear arrogant for some. A lot of criticisms have been thrown at her, but she still remains unfazed. I’m pretty confident she can give the Philippines it’s fourth consecutive placement. But do I see Ariella winning the crown? No.

USA Erin was disappointing in candids. Most of her early photos in Moscow were unflattering, to the point that some really thinks she might go miss the cut this year. She looks really tired and in dire need of beauty rest. Not even her official photos could conceal the lack of freshness in her. However, it can’t be denied that this girl is classy. She shouldn’t be counted out just yet as USA is a powerhouse in Miss Universe. I also think she can nail the interview rounds. There’s nothing to loose for her anyway.

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