Although I don't always agree with the judges on America's Next Top Model (Nicole? Jaslene? Seriously?), after watching the show for nine cycles, I can certainly predict with some degree of accuracy the contestants they'll be fawning over this season (Wednesdays at 8 pm/ET, CW). Mind you, this go-round, we have a wild card in Twiggy's successor, straight-shooting Dancing with the Stars alum Paulina Porizkova. But it's still safe to say that perennials Tyra Banks, "noted fashion photographer" Nigel Barker and Miss J Alexander are going to keep the following five girls around for the long haul. One of them — mark my words — is probably even the winner.
For her: As if her resemblance to Iman wasn't enough to make her a serious threat, she has the kind of heartbreaking life story that Tyra eats up.
Against her: Fatima calls herself a perfectionist but gives the off-putting impression that she already thinks she's pretty darn perfect. Nobody likes that. (Just ask Ausiello.)
For her: As ANTM competitors go, she's pretty sharp. When her rivals were mindlessly screaming as "homecoming queen" Tyra joked that she'd slept with all of their boyfriends, the Sarah Silverman look-alike, without missing a beat, retorted that she'd shagged Tyra's man, too.
Against her: Did I mention that Allison looks an awful lot like Sarah Silverman? Don't get me wrong — Sarah's cute, but Top Model material? Um, not so much.
For her: Like Jaslene, she's a comeback kid, nearly having made it to the finals last cycle. And I hate to sound cynical, but she, too, has led the kind of hard-knock life Miss T can't get enough of — rape, abuse and homelessness.
Against her: Hard-looking as Marvita is, I have to think that any shoot that calls for her to look sexy is going to be a real challenge. There's also a 50/50 chance she's gonna get kicked out for decking Fatima ('cause you just know that's coming).
For her: A dead ringer for Sarah Polley, Lauren falls into the "so wrong, she's right" category that the panel so often goes ape over. And diamonds in the rough don't get much rougher: Asked to strike a pose during her initial interview, Lauren did so… with her back to the judges!
Against her: Rather than teach Lauren how to walk, talk and pose, Miss Tyra might want to simply choose one of the girls who can already do those things.
For her: She's exotic-looking but accessible, intelligent but not condescending, and just strange enough to be interesting. (She described her breast milk as tasting like light soy.)
Against her: At 24, she's one of the older wannabes, so she's likely to hear the dreaded "not-so-fresh-faced" critiques that dogged Cycle 8's bitchy Renee. Since she's also a new enough mom to still be lactating, separation anxiety is sure to bring on a meltdown or 11.
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