There is a lot to like in this themeless, especially in the longer answers, which sparkle just the way you want them to, mostly. But we also have to put up with un PEU de crosswordese to make it there. Also, one of the first things I notices when I opened the puzzle was all of those black squares: 38 out of 225, or nearly 17% of the grid is black.
I didn't get very much traction in the NW. I guessed that 22A: Kind of wave might be SINE, but I had no confidence, especially since I tried "carbs" at 19A: Excluded category in the Paleo diet (DAIRY). So I moved into the center, where my first confident answer was GRATIA, followed by Spike Lee's alma mater, NYU (where else would a New York filmmaker get his or her M.F.A.?).
I am very proud of myself that my next answer was 15D: Terse and unadorned, as writing (HEMINGWAYESQUE). I don't think I've ever seen that entry before (Kafkaesque we've seen multiple times), and I liked it a lot. It also opened up the rest of the puzzle.
The SE fell quickly after that. The Q was a giveaway for INQUIREOF (although I had eNQ... at first), and 55A is well known (POUNDCAKE). I love 40D: Something not many people laugh at (INJOKE) - great clue, no question mark needed, but the misdirection is classic. I also thought 50A: Either half of a 1973 "duel" (BANJO) was excellent. My mind jumped to The Battle of the Sexes, which also took place in 1973, but there was no way to come up with an answer that referred to both Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. On the same wavelength, 36D: Things that might be batted at a ball (LASHES) gets a thumbs up.
BARGAININGCHIP came next (with ____CHIP, it was clear). Also a very nice 14-letter answer. And now I could fill in the middle trio of 11-letter answers. TRANSGENDER over AINTIAWOMAN is beautiful juxtaposition. DOMAINNAMES is much less interesting.
Just want to mention COLDOPEN (been some really good ones recently. Alec Baldwin was made to mock the GOP presidential nominee, and Kate McKinnon is always hilarious). Unfortunately, EREADER is also in the puzzle, and the clue is just a no-go for me.
1A: Connections (INS) gets a D-. Three letters, and a pluralized one at that.
INS was my first confident answer and yes, a D- is appropriate. I enjoyed, in addition to all of the above mentioned by Colum, DOTHEMATH, the fact that DAFT/IDIOT (Birdbrained/Birdbrain) are adjacent, and the SKORT/TEES pair. The clue for AGRA was a refreshing change for that bit of crosswordese, but it didn't fool me for a second. Excellent Friday.