"An excellent primer from a dependable chronicler of African-American culture."
— John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter
"The film is kind of brilliant in the way it covers and contextualizes more than 50 years of groundbreaking music in barely two hours."
— Peter Howell, Toronto Star
"I highly recommend this decades-spanning, engrossing, hilarious, sad, and informative documentary to all music fans, whether you liked Davis beforehand or not."
— Lorry Kikta, Film Threat
"It's a film that Miles himself would recognize - truthful, gritty, elegantly musical, unpredictable and even surprising - the kind of complex yet elegiac tribute a man as relentlessly real as Miles Davis deserves."
— Joel Selvin, San Francisco Chronicle
"As someone who’s absorbed bits and pieces of the Miles Davis story over the years but never felt like I had the big picture, I found “Birth of the Cool” to be intensely gratifying. Nelson is a filmmaker with a sixth sense for how to nudge history into the present."
— Owen Gleiberman, Variety
"The considerable achievement of “Birth of the Cool” comes from the way it understands those words and places them in the context of American history. You’ll want to listen to Miles’ music after watching the film and, when you do, you might feel it a little deeper."
— Glenn Whipp, Los Angeles Times