Here we are again! Another year, another pageant.  It is GB’s 18th year covering the Miss Universe pageant and we are more than excited to witness the coronation of a new beautiful woman (as long as Steve Harvey announces the results correctly), who will join the other 64 title holders and enters the Miss Universe “Hall of Fame”.

This year, trying to come up with a list of favorites has not been easy, in part due to the changes implemented by the Miss Universe Organization (if they indeed take place). The new direction that the pageant is taking, labeled “Confidently Beautiful” is exactly the same steps that it was taking in 1998 when its slogan was “Redefined for Today”, under the direction of Molly Miles  – who lasted only one year in charge -.  The 1998 pageants put strong emphasis on women’s empowerment and the delegates’ academical and professional achievements.  Something that apparently did not please Donald Trump (who owned the contest back then) who changed it back to what it’s supposed to be: a mere “beauty” pageant.

There is supposed to be a lot of emphasis on personal stories, interview skills and overall charm of the contestants; it was even said that interview carries 60% of the total vote, while swimsuit and evening gown total a 40%.

Having said that, Miss Universe has a tradition to keep, as pageant fans watch the pageant mainly for its competition values.  Nobody tunes into a football match to hear all the players’ stories and achievements; they are there for the competition, and for the pride of watching their team (in this case, country) beat all the others.

However it is not surprising that the MUO wants to take this direction specially in a social media world that no longer looks up to beauty queens like in the past; nowadays is about influencing, celeb status, followings and popularity (think Kylie Jenner, for example).

Back to basics: GB was able to come up with a list of favorites (yes, we have predicted the winner in the past, and we have also failed, like any human being; but we do not care about that, otherwise we wouldn’t be doing this for the 18th year in a row).  Here is our final review, one by one, of this year’s beauties:

65th Miss Universe: GB’s FINAL REVIEW

Albania – Beautiful hair and unique looks. Good posture, should smile a bit more on stage.****

Angola – She is very elegant with an interesting back story, we will see if the judges place her in the finals. ****

Argentina – It´s cool to see Argentina represented at a high level in Miss Universe. She has a striking face, great body and lots of sex appeal.****

Aruba – Totally impressive during her evening gown presentation, reminiscent of the “myth” Minorka Mercado, a Miss Venezuela who placed 3rd in Miss Universe 1994, also in the Philippines.****

Australia – Very beautiful woman, but her performance was not outstanding. She arrived in the Philippines as one of the ones to beat, but she lacked the energy in the important events to live up to the hype. She could place. ****

Austria – She has quite the presence and her national costume brought a lot of attention. ****

Bahamas – Beautiful in evening gown, and very classy lady. ****

Barbados – Very, very pretty and elegant, one of the best girls from Barbados ever. But with only 12 spots, will it be enough?****

Belgium – She was a pleasant surprise! What a face, she stood out and could easily pull an upset by advancing to the semi-finals on Monday morning.****

Belize – She is one of the best Miss Belize’s ever sent to Miss Universe, with a radiant smile.  But will that be enough? ****

Bolivia – She has a nice face and her national costume brought a lot of applauses but she has passed completely under the radar this year. ***

Brazil – On stage Miss Brazil complete nailed it! One of the best performances of the night, it´s a 100% chance for her to place. She might struggle when time comes to face the microphone, but until that happens, she will not be stopped. Top 6 for sure, and then it will depend on how she does on her interview. ***** Crown Alert

British Virgin Islands – Friendly and elegant, and very active in her social media. ***

Bulgaria – Beautiful face, not as noticed by coming from a non-sash country that has yet to produce a semi-finalist. ****

Canada – The same bright and beautiful young woman who scored a perfect 10,0 in Miss Supranational´s preliminary interview in 2015, has all it takes to win the crown, in case Miss Universe has indeed changed its criteria. Talk about being confident and courageous! She will fight for the crown. ***** Crown Alert

Cayman Islands – She is full of energy, very proactive, elegant and friendly.  ****

Chile – Impressive during the competition, but lackluster in the Preliminary show. It looked like she was trying too hard and over smiling at some points. But she has a great presence. ****

China – OK, here is another huge surprise! One of the best performers on stage, Miss China showed plenty of confidence and elegance in a natural way. She must be 100% in ****

Colombia – For many months she was the one to beat; one of the most beautiful faces, but maybe Colombia is in that category of “anything is possible”: winning or not placing at all. Some media scandals hurt her participation a bit, and the swimsuit competition was not her forte.  But she looks amazing in her evening gown.  If she pushes through the extra mile, she can definitely take it all. ****1/2

Costa Rica – Costa Rica has the most beautiful smile of the whole competition.***

Croatia – Gorgeous face, has not been noticed much. ****

Curaçao – Another “must be in” case, after a fearless presentation in swimsuit and gown. She was extraordinary and certainly impressed the judges.****

Czech Republic – She has a beautiful face and eyes, but lacks the amazing runway skills typical of the Czech representatives. ****

Denmark – Not new to pageants, she won an international title in China called “Bride of the World”. She is very sexy and elegant.  ****

Dominican Republic – Statuesque Dominican Republic exudes elegance as she walks the runway. She has a nice long neck and a beautiful aura, as well as an amazing life story that could have scored points with the judges. Another strong bet from the Caribbean.****

Ecuador – A very intelligent girl with a great back story (she lost her boyfriend recently and also was affected by the Earthquake in her country). It would not be surprising at all to see her in the semi-finals as an example of determination and confidence. ****

Finland – Cute as a doll with a nice smile, but has lacked the energy that is usually rewarded in a pageant like Miss Universe. ****

France – She has looked perfect since day 1 of the competition. Great body, amazing dress, flawless presentations. Wondering how she will do when interviewed. Is it finally time for France? ***** Crown Alert

Georgia – One of the most beautiful faces in the competition, classic timeless beauty but didn’t show much energy on stage. ****

Germany – Germany is a veteran to beauty competitions: Miss International, Miss Supranational, Miss Grand are among her resume, but her most impressive asset is visiting over 50 countries at such a young age.  She is also a student and activist, having completed recently community work in Burkina Faso.  Her body has improved tremendously and she has shown determination to do well in Miss Universe.  It was hard to not count her in our list (very competitive batch), but if she places in the finals it will definitely be well deserved and not a surprise. ****

Great Britain – She pulled an upset in her country by beating three big favorites in her national competition; she can definitely do the same in Miss Universe. ****

Guam – Nice smile and charming, has not been noticed very much. ***

Guatemala – She does show lots of confidence and a radiant smile.****

Guyana – She is very elegant and well prepared, but it is such a competitive group. ***

Haiti – Great gown choice, she´s quite elegant and with a nice story. ****

Honduras – Her back story was quite interesting, after being dethroned and reinstated again; she is well prepared and has a pretty face, but Honduras is a non-sash country so we will see. ****

Hungary – Gorgeous face; Hungarian delegates were noticed in 2006 and 2008, she is very elegant and smiling and could be noticed too. ****

Iceland – What a face! Miss Iceland is what we call an effortless beauty. She is absolutely adorable and looked stunning in evening gown. Hope Iceland can beat the odds and advance.****

India – Could pull a surprise if she did very well in interview, something typical of Indian delegates; her facial beauty is not up to par with former successful Miss India’s. ***

Indonesia – Superb, the best Miss Indonesia in Miss Universe ever. She lost a bit of control and almost tripped in gown, but it did not hurt her chances in our opinion. Powerful beauty, attitude and personality. Indonesia will fight for the crown.***** Crown Alert

Israel – Beautiful face, it kind of looks that she came unprepared for the pageant.  ***

Italy – Stunning and tall, is the love child of Evelina Papantoniou (Greece 2001) and Natalia Guimaraes (Brazil 2007). She could surprise, but it might  not be enough.****

Jamaica – One of the tallest (if not the tallest) delegates, with a very nice look and a gorgeous evening gown, watch out for her. ****

Japan – Charming, with huge eyes and a very unique look.***

Kazakhstan – Elegant girl with an amazingly impressive evening gown which was more Miss World-type.  ***

Kenya – Very interesting woman with a story to tell. She clearly stands out and would fit into what MUO claims to be looking for. We shall see… ****

Korea – Beautiful smile and nice attitude, a lot of locals seem to like her. ***

Kosovo – She was compared to Azra Akin (Miss World 2002 from Turkey).  Kosovo looked stunning during the Preliminaries, she could pull a surprise.****

Malaysia – Gorgeous girl (her sister competed in Miss Grand International), brought an amazing National Costume and has looked 100% every day of the competition. However we don’t know if that will be enough for the Miss Universe brand, which seems to overlook Malaysia every year. ****

Malta – Her participation marks Malta’s comeback since 2000, which is exciting, however she has not been very noticed by the media. She has gorgeous eyes. ***

Mauritius: She has a nice smile, friendly and elegant. Seems to fade when in group photos. ***

Mexico – Sexy and pretty, but with only 13 spots,  we are not sure if she will make the cut, it is possible. ****

Myanmar – Well prepared and charming, but has not been as noticed as other Asian beauties this year. ***

Namibia – Tall, eloquent, well prepared and a nice face, would not be a surprise if called in the finals. ****

Netherlands – Interesting background, well prepared, unique. She probably had a great preliminary interview.****

New Zealand – She is pretty, very proactive, smart and for sure had an excellent preliminary interview.  What can hurt her chances is that she is the shortest of the 86 contestants. If the judges look past that, she could surprise everyone. ****

Nicaragua – What we love about Nicaragua is the fact that she makes herself noticed without all the being “affected”. She is classy and has that “it factor”, which makes her a natural stand out. Watch out for Nicaragua! **** 1/2

Nigeria – She competed in Miss World in China, and upon her arrival in Manila she was at times confused with Miss Colombia. Very pretty face, skin and attitude.  ***

Norway – Always with a smile, full of energy and elegant.  But we don’t know if that will be enough. ***

Panama – One of the most beautiful Latin delegates, she performed quite well on stage. Tall, stunning and elegant, it will all come down to the interview. ***** Crown Alert

Paraguay – Elegant, tall, great gown choice.  Didn’t stand out much in the group but certainly has the beauty to surprise the audience. ****

Peru – Stunning face, great personality, did not look as good as we expected in prelims, but indeed we hope to see her doing well. ****

Philippines – OK, Miss Philippines did her homework right. She is lovely and looked good on stage, but she didn’t have the energy or that “it factor” Pia had written all over her last year. She could be saving her best for last, we shall see. ****

Poland: Very tall, sweet and elegant, perhaps a bit shy during her presentation on stage. ****

Portugal – Super cute, one of the best Portuguese delegates to have competed in Miss Universe in all times. ****

Puerto Rico – Her stage presence is undeniable, but she has not being as visible as other Puerto Rican title holders.  Great body and preparation.  It was not an easy year for her after being involved in a trial due to the former winner being dethroned; but God decided that it was for Brenda to be in the Philippines!  ****

Romania – She is a very pretty delegate but has not brought much energy and attitude into the competition. ***

Russia – Beautiful and photogenic girl who arrived as a favorite, then passed unnoticed in this sea of beauties. ****

Sierra Leone – Confident, unique, what a great smile, with a great story and with a charm that enchanted the locals and followers of the pageant.  She embodies the African woman of today and she deserves to be in the semifinals. ****1/2

Singapore – She impressed me at some points of the competition, but tonight was not her best moment. An underdog who could still pull a surprise.

Slovakia – Gorgeous, gorgeous delegate, perhaps one of the most beautiful. It looks like she came straight from the 1970´s with her Charlie’s Angels vibe, natural beauty and “I don´t care if you find me beautiful or not” attitude. Slovak Republic has not placed since 1994! Will it be her turn? ****

Slovenia – Nice face, beautiful hair, not sure about her chances coming from a non-sash country.***

South Africa – Competed in the recently held Miss World pageant in Washington, DC, where she also went unnoticed.  South African delegates usually have excellent interview skills, we will see.***

Spain – OK, talk about a surprise! Most people did not even remember her face until the Preliminary Show, and now Spain is among the favorites! What a beautiful, tall, elegant Spanish beauty. She will go far and can fight for the crown.****

Sri Lanka – Nice delegate with a nice attitude, has not stood out much this year. ***

Sweden – One of the best figures of the competition, Sweden was a semi-finalist in Miss Supranational a couple of years ago. She did well, but will it be enough?****

Switzerland – She also competed in Miss World.  Beautiful face, has not been very noticed by the fans this year. ***

Tanzania – Posture, charm, interesting look. Tanzania performed really well on stage.****

Thailand – With a great life story, plenty of followers and much preparation, Thailand is playing strongly and will fight for the crown. She is lovely and did remarkably well.  Could she be the 65th Miss Universe? ***** Crown Alert

Turkey – Arrived in Manila as one of the biggest favorites.  She does have a unique look and a gorgeous face, but did not show energy on stage.  ****

Ukraine – Beautiful, perhaps one of the most beautiful girls around, and certainly looks like a Miss Universe.  However her performance in preliminaries was a bit forgettable.  She must bring that energy into the stage and she could win it all. ****1/2

Uruguay – One of the prettiest delegates Uruguay has sent to Miss Universe, but from such a small country with no sash factor, it is not certain she will place. ****

US Virgin Islands – Another pageant veteran, having doing Miss Supranational and Miss World.  She is extremely intelligent and well spoken, as well as sweet, charming and is loved by the local fans.  She must have kicked some ass in the interview portion, so watch out for her. ****

USA – During the last weeks, it looked like Miss USA did not even want to be there, but she stood out in Prelims and is now back in the game. She does have an interesting background. Remember: the USA usually wins when we do not expect it.****1/2

Venezuela – Well prepared, charismatic, with lots of stage presence. All true. However, her facial beauty is not up to par with her Miss Universe counterparts (Maritza Sayalero, Irene Saez, Barbara Palacios, Alicia Machado, Dayana Mendoza, Stefania Fernandez and Gabriela Isler). Her countrymen and fans have put 100% their chips on the table betting for her victory; will she be the 8th Venezuelan Miss Universe? ****1/2

Vietnam: Nice delegate, beautiful and well prepared, but did not stand out very much during the competition. ***

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Here we are again! Another year, another pageant.  It is GB's 18th year covering the Miss Universe pageant and we are more than excited to witness the coronation of a new beautiful woman (as long as Steve Harvey announces the results correctly), who will join the other 64 title...