I really enjoyed this puzzle! It has a CASTOFTHOUSANDS ("picked him out of thousands... didn't like the rest... too flat"). And that's a great clue as well (16A: Epic number).
I broke in with 3D: Byzantine art bit (TESSERA), which helped me to recall 1A: Viking girl in "How to Train Your Dragon" (ASTRID), which was a great movie, by the way. A- for the reminder. But then we also get SWEEPEA and CLARICE ("And what did you see, Clarice? What did you see?"). And nice hidden capital in 15A: Starling of book and film.
Each of the 15-letter answers are strong. 6D: Appealing figure? (DEFENSEATTORNEY) is very good, but I love 7D: Rice elbows, e.g. (GLUTENFREEPASTA). It's so contemporary. But maybe even better is 28A: Its main characters go to hell (DANTESINFERNO).
I found the solve to be very smooth. Everything flowed from section to section, and the connectors were fun to figure out. 48A: Snowflake or crystal shape (FRACTAL) is lovely. 38D: Fairly clean, so to speak (RATEDPG) is very nice. My favorite is 54A: Like Charlie Brown's kite, ultimately (INATREE). It's so blunt.
EDATES is annoying. I don't love ONEOCAT. ACDELCO isn't great. And what's a SKIBIB? Just what you think it is. There are a scattering of 3-letter answers like KEL, REA, and KTS which I could do without. But it's a fun themeless, and I give it thumbs up.
ASTRID gets an A-??? Terrible. CLARICE is great, though, and so is the photo and movie. I started off with DANTESINFERNO and was able to throw in GLUTENFREEPASTA pretty quickly. PENTANE is great, as is BACKINTHESADDLE and the trivia on STANLEE. Despite my time, there weren't too many slowdowns for me, either. I never heard of COLSON or DERALTE, and the "L" of the cross, a guess, was my last grid entry. Originally I entered hexagon instead of FRACTAL, but once I read the rice elbow clue, I took it out. Enjoyable Friday offering.
My entré was at SWEEPEA, and CLARICE was next. Everybody loves CLARICE...
DERALTE is tough right there in the middle, and I guessed at COLSON, too, Huygens, (I guessed it because of "Agents of Shield"), but it all worked out.
Much has already been said. I also tried "hexagon," and I don't know what ONEOCAT is. In fact, I'm not even sure I'm parsing it correctly. Love the clue for LARD, and the contrast of ASCOTS and SKIBIB on the left edge. Completely agree that this was a fun Friday!